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Abstract The balance of microbial nitrogen (N) transformation processes in sub-arctic terrestrial ecosystems is most likely affected by global change, with potential feedbacks to greenhouse gas emissions and eutrophication. Soil temperature and N availability – their global increases being two of the most pressing global change features - will be prime drivers of N dynamics and microbial community structure, but little is known about their interactive effects in these ecosystems. We utilized geothermally warmed soils from Iceland as a natural experiment for assessing fertilization and warming effects on gross soil N transformation processes. Experimental incubations of these soils at different temperatures coupled with a dual 15N-labelling/-tracing approach and pyrotag transcript-sequencing allowed for the analysis of independent and combined impacts of N fertilization and temperature shifts on gross N mineralisation, nitrification, and ammonium and nitrate immobilisation rates and archaeal ammonia-oxidizing (AOA) communities, being the key ammonia oxidizers in this soil. Gross nitrification in warmed soil was increased in relation to ambient temperature soil and exhibited a higher temperature optimum. Concomitantly, our results revealed a selection of AOA populations adapted to in situ soil temperatures. Phylogenetically distinct populations of actively ammonia-oxidizing archaea exhibited conserved temperature optima. N mineralization and nitrification showed higher sensitivities in response to short-term temperature changes if the soils had been warmed. In part, the influence of short-term temperature changes could however be neutralized by the effects of N fertilization. Long-term N fertilization alone affected only gross N mineralization. However, all gross N transformation rates were significantly altered by the interactive effects of N fertilization and soil warming. We conclude that in order to reliably predict effects of global change on sub-arctic soil N transformation processes we need to consider multiple interactions among global change factors and to take into account the capacity of soil microbial populations to adapt to global change conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-124
Number of pages11
JournalSoil Biology & Biochemistry
Volume107
DOI
StatePublished - Apr 2017

Research areas

  • 15N-tracing, 15N-pool-dilution, Nitrogen cycle, Climate change, Ammonia-oxidizing archaea, Warming, N enrichment, international

ID: 2928932