Faculty Publication: Associate Professor of Biology Thomas Mozdzer

March 9, 2023

Species Shifts Induce Soil Organic Matter Priming and Changes in Microbial Communities

Authors: Bernal, Blanca; Kim, Sunghyun; Mozdzer, Thomas J.

Source: Science of the Total Environment, Vol. 859, Part 1, Article Number: 159956, DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.159956, Feb. 2023

Type of Publication: Article

Abstract: Invasion of plant species with functional traits that influences the rhizosphere can have significant effects on soil organic matter (SOM) dynamics if the invasive species stimulates soil microbial communities with, for example, an en-hanced supply of labile carbon and oxygen. We evaluated these effects along a Phragmites invasion chronosequence spanning over 40 years. Using a δ13C and δ15N enriched substrate, we separated SOM-derived and substrate-derived carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) mineralization in surface (top 15 cm), shallow (30-45 cm), and deep (65-80 cm) soils col-lected from established, newly invaded, and native plant communities. We found all soils were susceptible to SOM priming, but priming profiles differed between vegetation communities, being highest at the surface in native assem-blage soils, whereas highest at depth under invasive plants. Changes in functional microbial community composition at depth in Phragmites soils, evidenced by an increase in relative fungal laccase abundance, explained the SOM priming in these deep invaded soils. Our results show that invasive Phragmites maintains a microbial community at depth able to degrade SOM faster than that under native vegetation, evidencing that plant species shifts can fundamentally change soil biogeochemistry, altering element cycling and decreasing SOM residence time. Furthermore, our experi-mental design allowed to quantify real-time SOM-C and SOM-N gross mineralization, resulting in a new model relating C and N mineralization in these wetland soils and providing new insights on how SOM decomposition impacts N avail-ability and cycling across wetland N pools.

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