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Deprivation of root-derived resources affects microbial biomass but not community structure in litter and soil.

ABSTRACT: The input of plant leaf litter has been assumed to be the most important resource for soil organisms of forest ecosystems, but there is increasing evidence that root-derived resources may be more important. By trenching roots of trees in deciduous and coniferous forests, we cut-off the input of root-derived resources and investigated the response of microorganisms using substrate-induced respiration and phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis. After one and three years, root trenching strongly decreased microbial biomass and concentrations of PLFAs by about 20%, but the microbial community structure was little affected and the effects were similar in deciduous and coniferous forests. However, the reduction in microbial biomass varied between regions and was more pronounced in forests on limestone soils (Hainich) than in those on sandy soils (Schorfheide). Trenching also reduced microbial biomass in the litter layer but only in the Hainich after one year, whereas fungal and bacterial marker PLFAs as well as the fungal-to-plant marker ratio in litter were reduced in the Schorfheide both after one and three years. The pronounced differences between forests of the two regions suggest that root-derived resources are more important in fueling soil microorganisms of base-rich forests characterized by mull humus than in forests poor in base cations characterized by moder soils. The reduction in microbial biomass and changes in microbial community characteristics in the litter layer suggests that litter microorganisms do not exclusively rely on resources from decomposing litter but also from roots, i.e. from resources based on labile recently fixed carbon. Our results suggest that both bacteria and fungi heavily depend on root-derived resources with both suffering to a similar extent to deprivation of these resources. Further, the results indicate that the community structure of microorganisms is remarkably resistant to changes in resource supply and adapts quickly to new conditions irrespective of tree species composition and forest management.


PROVIDER: S-EPMC6438447 | BioStudies | 2019-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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