Determine the response of soil respiration and microbial biomass in planted and unplanted soil to drying and rewetting stress.
Barley was grown at high density in a loamy sand at 75% of water holding capacity to obtain planted soil. For unplanted soil, pots without plants were kept in the same conditions. After 4 weeks, soil from planted (brushed off the roots) and unplanted pots were used for the subsequent incubation experiment. For drying and rewetting (DRW), the soil was dried for 7 days immediately after collection of the soil. On day 8, the soil was rewet quickly to 75% of water holding capacity and kept moist until day 14. For the constantly moist treatment (CM), the soil was kept at 75% of WHC for 2 weeks.
In CM, respiration rates were higher in planted than unplanted soil, but microbial biomass C (MBC) did not differ between planting treatments. In DRW, respiration rates rapidly decreased in the dry period, irrespective of planting treatment. The flush of respiration after rewetting was 50% greater in planted than unplanted soil. Only in planted soil, MBC doubled after rewetting (from day 7 to 9), but then halved again to day 14.
Previous planting increases organic C supply to microbes which increases the respiration flush after rewetting and microbial growth.
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Elmajdoub, B., Marschner, P. Response of Soil Respiration and Microbial Biomass to Drying and Rewetting Is Greater in Planted than in Unplanted Soil. J Soil Sci Plant Nutr 21, 2765–2769 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42729-021-00563-4