The soil priming effect (PE), defined as the modification of soil organic matter decomposition by labile carbon (C) inputs, is known to influence C storage in terrestrial ecosystems. However, how chronic nutrient addition, particularly in leguminous and non-leguminous forests, will affect PE through interaction with nutrient (e.g., nitrogen and phosphorus) availability is still unclear. Therefore, we collected soils from leguminous and non-leguminous subtropical plantations across a suite of historical nutrient addition regimes. We added 13C-labeled glucose to investigate how background soil nutrient conditions and microbial communities affect priming and its potential microbial mechanisms. Glucose addition increased soil organic matter decomposition and prompted positive priming in all soils, regardless of dominant overstory tree species or fertilizer treatment. In non-leguminous soil, only combined nitrogen and phosphorus addition led to a higher positive priming than the control. Conversely, soils beneath N-fixing leguminous plants responded positively to P addition alone, as well as to joint NP addition compared to control. Using DNA stable-isotope probing, high-throughput quantitative PCR, enzyme assays and microbial C substrate utilization, we found that positive PE was associated with increased microbial C utilization, accompanied by an increase in microbial community activity, nutrient-related gene abundance, and enzyme activities. Our findings suggest that the balance between soil available N and P effects on the PE, was dependent on rhizosphere microbial community composition. Furthermore, these findings highlight the roles of the interaction between plants and their symbiotic microbial communities in affecting soil priming and improve our understanding of the potential microbial pathways underlying soil PEs.
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The sequencing raw data are deposited in the NCBI Short Read Archive database under accession numbers PRJNA884088 and PRJNA884089.
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This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (42207262 and 42177289) and the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2021M703135). JS was supported by Spanish Government grant. JP and JS were supported by the Spanish Government grants PID2020-115770RB-I00 and TED2021-132627B-I00 funded by MCIN, AEI/10.13039/501100011033 and the European NextGenerationEU/PRTR, the Fundación Ramón Areces grant CIVP20A6621, and the Catalan government project SGR2021-01333.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Li, J., Liu, ZF., Jin, MK. et al. Microbial controls over soil priming effects under chronic nitrogen and phosphorus additions in subtropical forests. ISME J 17, 2160–2168 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41396-023-01523-9