Soil microbial legacies differ following drying-rewetting and freezing-thawing cycles

Annelein Meisner (Corresponding author), Basten Snoek, Joseph Nesme, Elizabeth Dent, Samuel Jacquiod, Aimée T. Classen, Anders Priemé

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


Climate change alters frequencies and intensities of soil drying-rewetting and freezing-thawing cycles. These fluctuations affect soil water availability, a crucial driver of soil microbial activity. While these fluctuations are leaving imprints on soil microbiome structures, the question remains if the legacy of one type of weather fluctuation (e.g., drying-rewetting) affects the community response to the other (e.g., freezing-thawing). As both phenomenons give similar water availability fluctuations, we hypothesized that freezing-thawing and drying-rewetting cycles have similar effects on the soil microbiome. We tested this hypothesis by establishing targeted microcosm experiments. We created a legacy by exposing soil samples to a freezing-thawing or drying-rewetting cycle (phase 1), followed by an additional drying-rewetting or freezing-thawing cycle (phase 2). We measured soil respiration and analyzed soil microbiome structures. Across experiments, larger CO2 pulses and changes in microbiome structures were observed after rewetting than thawing. Drying-rewetting legacy affected the microbiome and CO2 emissions upon the following freezing-thawing cycle. Conversely, freezing-thawing legacy did not affect the microbial response to the drying-rewetting cycle. Our results suggest that drying-rewetting cycles have stronger effects on soil microbial communities and CO2 production than freezing-thawing cycles and that this pattern is mediated by sustained changes in soil microbiome structures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1207-1221
JournalISME Journal
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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