Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 481–493 | Cite as

Effects of carbon and phosphorus addition on microbial respiration, N2O emission, and gross nitrogen mineralization in a phosphorus-limited grassland soil

  • Kazi R. Mehnaz
  • Claudia Keitel
  • Feike A. Dijkstra
Original Paper


Soil microbes are frequently limited by carbon (C), but also have a high phosphorus (P) requirement. Little is known about the effect of P availability relative to the availability of C on soil microbial activity. In two separate experiments, we assessed the effect of P addition (20 mg P kg−1 soil) with and without glucose addition (500 mg C kg−1 soil) on gross nitrogen (N) mineralization (15N pool dilution method), microbial respiration, and nitrous oxide (N2O) emission in a grassland soil. In the first experiment, soils were incubated for 13 days at 90% water holding capacity (WHC) with addition of NO3 (99 mg N kg−1 soil) to support denitrification. Addition of C and P had no effect on gross N mineralization. Initially, N2O emission significantly increased with glucose, but it decreased at later stages of the incubation, suggesting a shift from C to NO3 limitation of denitrifiers. P addition increased the N2O/CO2 ratio without glucose but decreased it with glucose addition. Furthermore, the 15N recovery was lowest with glucose and without P addition, suggesting a glucose by P interaction on the denitrifying community. In the second experiment, soils were incubated for 2 days at 75% WHC without N addition. Glucose addition increased soil 15N recovery, but had no effect on gross N mineralization. Possibly, glucose addition increased short-term microbial N immobilization, thereby reducing N-substrates for nitrification and denitrification under more aerobic conditions. Our results indicate that both C and P affect N transformations in this grassland soil.


15N recovery Denitrification Grassland Gross N mineralization Microbial respiration N2O emission 



We thank Hero Tahaei and Janani Vimalathithen for their assistance in soil chemical analyses. This research was financially supported by the Australian Research Council (FT100100779).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kazi R. Mehnaz
    • 1
  • Claudia Keitel
    • 1
  • Feike A. Dijkstra
    • 1
  1. 1.Sydney Institute of Agriculture, School of Life and Environmental SciencesThe University of SydneyCamdenAustralia

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