Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Journal topic
Volume 10, issue 7
Biogeosciences, 10, 5115–5124, 2013
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-10-5115-2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Special issue: Ecosystems in transition: interactions and feedbacks with...

Biogeosciences, 10, 5115–5124, 2013
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-10-5115-2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 26 Jul 2013

Research article | 26 Jul 2013

Dynamics of microbial communities during decomposition of litter from pioneering plants in initial soil ecosystems

J. Esperschütz1,2, C. Zimmermann3, A. Dümig4, G. Welzl2, F. Buegger5, M. Elmer6, J. C. Munch1,5, and M. Schloter2 J. Esperschütz et al.
  • 1Technische Universität München – Chair of Soil Ecology Center of Life and Food Sciences Weihenstephan, Ingolstaedter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg, Germany
  • 2Helmholtz Zentrum München, GmbH, German Research Center for Environmental Health Research Unit for Environmental Genomics, Ingolstaedter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg, Germany
  • 3Brandenburg University of Technology Chair of Soil Protection and Recultivation, P.O. Box 101344, 03013 Cottbus, Germany
  • 4Technische Universität München – Chair of Soil Science Center of Life and Food Sciences Weihenstephan, Emil-Ramann-Straße, 85354 Freising, Germany
  • 5Helmholtz Zentrum München, GmbH, German Research Center for Environmental Health Institute of Soil Ecology, Ingolstaedter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg, Germany
  • 6Brandenburg University of Technology Research Centre Landscape Development and Mining Landscapes, Konrad-Wachsmann-Allee 6, 03046 Cottbus, Germany

Abstract. In initial ecosystems, concentrations of all macro- and micronutrients can be considered as extremely low. Plant litter therefore strongly influences the development of a degrader's food web and is an important source for C and N input into soil in such ecosystems. In the present study, a 13C litter decomposition field experiment was performed for 30 weeks in initial soils from a post-mining area near the city of Cottbus (Germany). Two of this region's dominant but contrasting pioneering plant species (Lotus corniculatus L. and Calamagrostis epigejos L.) were chosen to investigate the effects of litter quality on the litter decomposing microbial food web in initially nutrient-poor substrates. The results clearly indicate the importance of litter quality, as indicated by its N content, its bioavailability for the degradation process and the development of microbial communities in the detritusphere and soil. The degradation of the L. corniculatus litter, which had a low C / N ratio, was fast and showed pronounced changes in the microbial community structure 1–4 weeks after litter addition. The degradation of the C. epigejos litter material was slow and microbial community changes mainly occurred between 4 and 30 weeks after litter addition to the soil. However, for both litter materials a clear indication of the importance of fungi for the degradation process was observed both in terms of fungal abundance and activity (13C incorporation activity)

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