Effects of carbon and phosphorus addition on microbial respiration, N2O emission, and gross nitrogen mineralization in a phosphorus-limited grassland soil
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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.
Keywords15N 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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