Plant and Soil

, Volume 327, Issue 1–2, pp 35–47 | Cite as

Responses of soil nitrogen cycling to the interactive effects of elevated CO2 and inorganic N supply

  • Audrey Niboyet
  • Laure Barthes
  • Bruce A. Hungate
  • Xavier Le Roux
  • Juliette M. G. Bloor
  • Annick Ambroise
  • Sandrine Fontaine
  • Peter M. Price
  • Paul W. Leadley
Regular Article


Despite increasing interest in the effects of climate change on soil processes, the response of nitrification to elevated CO2 remains unclear. Responses may depend on soil nitrogen (N) status, and inferences may vary depending on the methodological approach used. We investigated the interactive effects of elevated CO2 and inorganic N supply on gross nitrification (using 15N pool dilution) and potential nitrification (using nitrifying enzyme activity assays) in Dactylis glomerata mesocosms. We measured the responses of putative drivers of nitrification (NH 4 + production, NH 4 + consumption, and soil environmental conditions) and of potential denitrification, a process functionally linked to nitrification. Gross nitrification was insensitive to all treatments, whereas potential nitrification was higher in the high N treatment and was further stimulated by elevated CO2 in the high N treatment. Gross mineralization and NH 4 + consumption rates were also significantly increased in response to elevated CO2 in the high N treatment, while potential denitrification showed a significant increase in response to N addition. The discrepancy between the responses of gross and potential nitrification to elevated CO2 and inorganic N supply suggest that these measurements provide different information, and should be used as complementary approaches to understand nitrification response to global change.


CO2 and N interactions Gross mineralization Gross nitrification Potential nitrification Potential denitrification 



We would like to thank Nadine Guillaumaud and Benjamin Moan for help with laboratory measurements, Jean-Christophe Lata, Jean-Louis Mabout and Lionel Saunois for help with plant harvesting. This study was funded by University and CNRS support of the Laboratoire d’Ecologie, Systématique, Evolution (UMR CNRS 8079), CNRS and INRA support of the Laboratoire d’Ecologie Microbienne (UMR CNRS 5557; USC INRA 1193), and the US National Science Foundation (DEB-0092642).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Audrey Niboyet
    • 1
    • 2
  • Laure Barthes
    • 1
  • Bruce A. Hungate
    • 3
  • Xavier Le Roux
    • 4
  • Juliette M. G. Bloor
    • 5
  • Annick Ambroise
    • 1
  • Sandrine Fontaine
    • 1
  • Peter M. Price
    • 3
  • Paul W. Leadley
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire Ecologie, Systématique, et Evolution, UMR 8079 Université Paris-Sud / CNRS / AgroParisTechUniversité Paris-SudOrsayFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire Biogéochimie et Ecologie des Milieux Continentaux, UMR 7618 UPMC / CNRSEcole Normale SupérieureParisFrance
  3. 3.Colorado Plateau Stable Isotope Laboratory, Department of Biological SciencesNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  4. 4.Laboratoire d’Ecologie Microbienne, UMR 5557 Université Lyon 1 / CNRS, USC 1193 INRAUniversité de LyonVilleurbanneFrance
  5. 5.UR874 Grassland Ecosystem Research UnitINRAClermont-FerrandFrance

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