Preferential use of root litter compared to leaf litter by beech seedlings and soil microorganisms
- 621 Downloads
Background and aims
Litter decomposition is regulated by e.g. substrate quality and environmental factors, particularly water availability. The partitioning of nutrients released from litter between vegetation and soil microorganisms may, therefore, be affected by changing climate. This study aimed to elucidate the impact of litter type and drought on the fate of litter-derived N in beech seedlings and soil microbes.
We quantified 15N recovery rates in plant and soil N pools by adding 15N-labelled leaf and/or root litter under controlled conditions.
Root litter was favoured over leaf litter for N acquisition by beech seedlings and soil microorganisms. Drought reduced 15N recovery from litter in seedlings thereby affecting root N nutrition. 15N accumulated in seedlings in different sinks depending on litter type.
Root turnover appears to influence (a) N availability in the soil for plants and soil microbes and (b) N acquisition and retention despite a presumably extremely dynamic turnover of microbial biomass. Compared to soil microorganisms, beech seedlings represent a very minor short-term N sink, despite a potentially high N residence time. Furthermore, soil microbes constitute a significant N pool that can be released in the long term and, thus, may become available for N nutrition of plants.
KeywordsLitter types Root litter Leaf litter Decomposition Microbial biomass Plant N metabolism Soil N pools 15N recovery
This work was funded by the German Research Foundation / Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) within the framework of the Beech Research Group under contract numbers FOR 788/1, RE 515/27-1, PO 362/17-1, and DA 1217/2-1. C.G. was financially supported by a scholarship from the China Scholarship Council (no. 2007U27036). Judy Simon was financially supported by the European Social Fund and by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg. Furthermore, we thank Merle Fastenrath, Regina Wiegel and Elisabeth Zumbusch for expert assistance during the experiment.
- Backes K, Leuschner C (2000) Leaf water relations of competitive Fagus sylvatica and Quercus petraea trees during 4 years differing in soil drought. Can J For Res 30:335–346Google Scholar
- Dannenmann M, Simon J, Gasche R, Holst J, Naumann PS, Kögel-Knabner I, Knicker H, Mayer H, Schloter M, Pena R, Polle A, Rennenberg H, Papen H (2009) Tree girdling provides insight on the role of labile carbon in nitrogen partitioning between soil microorganisms and adult European beech. Soil Biol Biochem 41:1622–1631CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Ellenberg H (1996) Vegetation Mitteleuropas mit den Alpen, 5th edn. Ulmer, StuttgartGoogle Scholar
- Ericsson T (1994) Nutrient dynamics and requirements of forest crops. N Z J For Sci 24:133–168Google Scholar
- IPCC (2007) Climate change 2007: Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. In: Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof JP, van der Linden PJ, Hanson CE (eds) Contribution of working group II to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Lamontagne S, Schiff SL, Elgood RJ (2000) Recovery of 15N-labeled nitrate applied to a small upland boreal forest catchment. Can J For Res 30:1165–1177Google Scholar
- Paul A (2007) Soil microbiology, ecology, and biochemistry, 3rd edn. Academic, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Silver WL, Miya RK (2001) Global patterns in root decomposition: comparisons of climate and litter quality. Oecologia 129:407–419Google Scholar
- Stoelken G, Pritsch K, Simon J, Müller C, Grams T, Esperschütz J, Gayler S, Buegger F, Brüggemann N, Meier R, Zeller B, Winkler JB, Rennenberg H (2010) Enhanced ozone exposure of European beech (Fagus sylvatica) stimulates nitrogen mobilisation from leaf litter and nitrogen accumulation in the soil. Plant Biosyst 144:537–546CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Van den Driessche R (1984) Nutrient storage, retranslocation and relationship of stress to nutrition. In: Bowen GD, Nambiar EKS (eds) Nutrition of plantation forests. Academic, Orlando, pp 181–209Google Scholar
- Winkler JB, Dannenmann M, Sternad W, Pena R, Clemenz C, Naumann PS, Kögel-Knabner I, Simon J, Rennenberg H, Polle A (2010) Carbon and nitrogen balance in beech roots under different competitive pressure of soil-born microorganisms induced by girdling, drought and glucose application. Funct Plant Biol 37:879–889CrossRefGoogle Scholar