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Microb Ecol. 2006 Apr;51(3):302-14. Epub 2006 Apr 6.

Relationships between microbial community structure and soil processes under elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide.

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  • 1Department of Biology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92182-4614, USA.


There is little current understanding of the relationship between soil microbial community composition and soil processes rates, nor of the effect climate change and elevated CO(2) will have on microbial communities and their functioning. Using the eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides) plantation at the Biosphere 2 Laboratory, we studied the relationships between microbial community structure and process rates, and the effects of elevated atmospheric CO(2) on microbial biomass, activity, and community structure. Soils were sampled from three treatments (400, 800, and 1200 ppm CO(2)), a variety of microbial biomass and activity parameters were measured, and the bacterial community was described by 16S rRNA libraries. Glucose substrate-induced respiration (SIR) was significantly higher in the 1200 ppm CO(2) treatment. There were also a variety of complex, nonlinear responses to elevated CO(2). There was no consistent effect of elevated CO(2) on bacterial diversity; however, there was extensive variation in microbial community structure within the plantation. The southern ends of the 800 and 1200 ppm CO(2) bays were dominated by beta-Proteobacteria, and had higher fungal biomass, whereas the other areas contained more alpha-Proteobacteria and Acidobacteria. A number of soil process rates, including salicylate, glutamate, and glycine substrate-induced respiration and proteolysis, were significantly related to the relative abundance of the three most frequent bacterial taxa, and to fungal biomass. Overall, variation in microbial activity was better explained by microbial community composition than by CO(2) treatment. However, the altered diversity and activity in the southern bays of the two high CO(2) treatments could indicate an interaction between CO(2) and light.

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