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Soil organic carbon (SOC) accumulation in rice paddies under long-term agro-ecosystem experiments in southern China – VI. Changes in microbial community structure and respiratory activity

Author(s): D. Liu | X. Liu | Y. Liu | L. Li | G. Pan | D. Crowley | R. Tippkötter

Journal: Biogeosciences Discussions
ISSN 1810-6277

Volume: 8;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1529;
Date: 2011;
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Biological stabilization within accumulated soil organic carbon (SOC) has not been well understood, while its role in physical and chemical protection as well as of chemical recalcitrance had been addressed in Chinese rice paddies. In this study, topsoil samples were collected and respiratory activity measured in situ following rice harvest under different fertilization treatments of three long-term experimental sites across southern China in 2009. The SOC contents, microbial biomass carbon (SMBC) and nitrogen (SMBN) were analysed using chemical digestion and microbial community structure assessment via clony dilute plate counting methods. While SOC contents were consistently higher under compound chemical fertilization (Comp-Fert) or combined organic and inorganic fertilization (Comb-Fert) compared to N fertilization only (N-Fert), there was significantly higher fungal-bacterial ratio under Comb-Fert than under N-Fert and Comp-Fert. When subtracting the background effect under no fertilization treatment (Non-Fert), the increase both in SMBC and SMBN under fertilization treatment was found very significantly correlated to the increase in SOC over controls across the sites. Also, the ratio of culturable fungal to bacterial population numbers (F/B ratio) was well correlated with soil organic carbon contents in all samples across the sites studied. SOC accumulation favoured a build-up the microbial community with increasing fungal dominance in the rice paddies under fertilization treatments. While soil respiration rates were high under Comb-Fert as a result of enhanced microbial community build-up, the specific soil respiratory activity based on microbial biomass carbon was found in a significantly negatively correlation with the SOC contents for overall samples. Thus, a fungal-dominated microbial community seemed to slow SOC turnover, thereby favouring SOC accumulation under Comp-Fert or under Comb-Fert in the rice paddies. Therefore, the biological stabilization process is of importance in SOC sequestration in the rice paddies, operating with physical and chemical protection and chemical recalcitrance. However, sufficient understanding and prediction of SOM dynamics needs further quantitative characterization of the simultaneous operation of several mechanisms.
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