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Season, but not experimental warming, affects the activity and temperature sensitivity of extracellular enzymes

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Abstract

Climate change may affect the microbial production and temperature sensitivity of extracellular enzymes that release carbon (C) and nutrients from soil organic matter. We measured the response of six hydrolytic enzymes involved in C, nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) degradation to experimental warming in a mixed-deciduous forest persisting on highly-weathered Ultisols (Whitehall Forest, Georgia, US). We found that warming produced no consistent enzyme response. However, we observed significant seasonal variation in enzyme activities, temperature sensitivities and elemental enzyme ratios (C:N and C:P). Seasonal differences in enzyme activity and temperature sensitivity were best explained by soil moisture and temperature. Our results suggest that seasonal dynamics in soil microclimate, organic matter supply, and microbial demand exert more control on enzyme dynamics than does a uniform increase in soil temperature.

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Acknowledgements

Field assistance by Peter Baas and Paul Frankson, and laboratory assistance by Shialoh Wilson is greatly appreciated. This work was supported in part by funding from NSF DEB-1242013, and support from the University of Georgia’s Office of the Vice-President for Research (OVPR).

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Correspondence to Megan B. Machmuller.

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Responsible Editor: Edith Bai.

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Machmuller, M.B., Mohan, J.E., Minucci, J.M. et al. Season, but not experimental warming, affects the activity and temperature sensitivity of extracellular enzymes. Biogeochemistry 131, 255–265 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10533-016-0277-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10533-016-0277-6

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