PLANT TAXA AND PYROLYSIS TEMPERATURE CONTROLS OF MICROBIAL AMINO SUGARS IN A NORTHERN FOREST SOIL

2020-07-30T18:08:35Z (GMT) by Jacob E Kastenbauer
In fire-prone forests, tree taxa and burn temperature are the major controllers of the chemical and physical properties of pyrogenic organic matter (PyOM), the aromatic carbon-rich product of the incomplete combustion of plant biomass, that accumulates in soil in such settings. These controls also dictate how soil microbes can degrade plant C once it enters into soil as previous studies demonstrate that increased fire temperature results in low PyOM degradability but also impacts the decomposition of the original soil. However, we know little about how taxa and temperature of C-inputs impact the production and accumulation of cellular residues from soil microbes, which can be the dominant source of stabilized soil organic matter in many ecosystems.
This work presents the results of the analysis of soil microbial amino sugars, as proxies for soil microbial necromass, from long-term soil incubation experiments, 180 and 600 days, that were amended with jack pine (JP) and red maple (RM) wood or their PyOM produced at 300°C or 450°C. Both wood taxa amendments resulted in an increase in microbial sugar residues compared to non-amended soils but RM, the taxa with the highest proportion of soluble sugars and low tannin content, exhibited the highest percentage increase. Soils amended with PyOM exhibited lower amino sugar content as compared to their wood but no difference compared to controls (non-amended soils). There was no difference in soil amino sugars observed between the PyOM derived from the two taxa nor between the temperature of pyrolysis, possibly due to only small amounts of bioavailable C and N in the PyOM. Total amino sugar concentrations varied significantly between PyOM and fresh wood treatments, with PyOM treatments yielding 659 – 730 μg/ g soil while wood treatments yielded 757 – 930 μg/ g soil early in incubations. While fungal-derived amino sugars were dominated in all treatments, longer soil incubation time, 600 days vs 180 days, resulted in a proportionately greater decrease bacterial-derived amino sugars. Overall, at 180 days, PyOM treatments exhibited 19-27% of soil N and 4-5% of soil C quantifiable as amino sugars while wood treatments exhibited 27-28% of total soil N and 6-7% of total soil C as amino sugars. This work shows, for the first time, that on a per C or per N basis, PyOM versus fresh wood addition to soils will result in a net depletion of microbial residues. The variable response in amino sugars between treatments and incubation time highlights the importance and dynamic nature of the physicochemical characteristics of organic matter input to soil in controlling the contribution of soil microbial residues to that soil.