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Rhizosphere microbiome modulated effects of biochar on ryegrass 15N uptake and rhizodeposited 13C allocation in soil

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Background and aims

Incorporation of biochar into the soil sequesters C for millennia, but the concomitant effects on plant rhizodepositions and nutrient (e.g., nitrogen; N) trade-offs via interactions of heterotrophic microbiota, might offset this sequestration.


Ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) with and without biochar amendment were pulse labelled in a 13CO2 atmosphere and 15N fertilizer added. Ryegrass and soils were destructively sampled at 16 and 30 days after seedling emergence. Isotope analysis was coupled with MiSeq sequencing of bacterial (16s rRNA) and fungal (ITS) genes to identify the effect of biochar on the associated microbiota involved in 13C allocation into soil aggregates and promotion of 15N uptake by L. perenne.


Biochar increased root biomass and 15N uptake but decreased rhizodeposited-13C recovery from large and small macroaggregates (by 12–57% and 57–72%, respectively). These changes in 13C flow and 15N uptake were accompanied by an increase in microbial biomass, and enhanced negative correlations between bacteria and fungi. O2PLS indicated members of seventeen genera that were correlated with soil stabilization of rhizodeposits in soil and plant N-uptake. For instance, Xanthomonadales (Proteobacteria) and RB41 (Acidobacteria), previously reported to be plant growth promoting rhizobacteria, were found to be positively correlated with 15N uptake by L. perenne.


Our research explored the genera associated with biochar-modified 15N uptake by Lolium perenne and photosynthate 13C allocation into soil aggregates. Future research with SIP is required to fully assess microbial turnover, the ubiquity of similar rhizosphere microbiota and their fundamental importance for sequestration in the plant-soil-microbe-biochar systems.

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16 days after seedling emergence


30 days after seedling emergence


large macro-aggregate


small macro-aggregate


total carbon


total nitrogen


dissolved organic carbon


microbial biomass carbon


Stable Isotope Probing


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This study was supported by the National Science Foundation of China (41520104001; 41671233), and Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2019QNA6012).

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Correspondence to Yu Luo.

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Responsible Editor: Lucas Silva

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Fu, Y., Kumar, A., Chen, L. et al. Rhizosphere microbiome modulated effects of biochar on ryegrass 15N uptake and rhizodeposited 13C allocation in soil. Plant Soil 463, 359–377 (2021).

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