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    Author(s): Jack W. McFarland; Roger W. Ruess; Knut Kielland; Kurt Pregitzer; Ronald Hendrick
    Date: 2010
    Source: Biogeochemistry. 99: 175-191
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: View PDF  (2.88 MB)


    Free amino acids (FAA) constitute a significant fraction of dissolved organic nitrogen (N) in forest soils and play an important role in the N cycle of these ecosystems. However, comparatively little attention has been given to their role as labile carbon (C) substrates that might influence the metabolic status of resident microbial populations. We hypothesized that the residence time of simple C substrates, such as FAA, are mechanistically linked to the turnover of endogenous soil C pools. We tested this hypothesis across a latitudinal gradient of forested ecosystems that differ sharply with regard to climate, overstory taxon, and edaphic properties. Using a combined laboratory and field approach, we compared the turnover of isotopically labeled glycine in situ to the turnover of mineralizable soil C (Cmin) at each site. The turnover of glycine was rapid (residence times <2 h) regardless of soil type. However, across all ecosystems glycine turnover rates were strongly correlated with indices of soil organic matter quality. For example, C:N ratios for the upper soil horizons explained ~ 80% of the variability observed in glycine turnover, and there was a strong positive correlation between in situ glycine-C turnover and Cmin measured in the laboratory. The turnover of glycine in situ was better explained by changes in soil C availability than cross-ecosystem variation in soil temperature or concentrations of dissolved inorganic N and FAA-N. This suggests the consumption of these low-molecular-weight substrates by soil microorganisms may be governed as much by the overall decomposability of soil C as by N limitation to microbial growth.

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    McFarland, Jack W.; Ruess, Roger W.; Kielland, Knut; Pregitzer, Kurt; Hendrick, Ronald. 2010. Glycine mineralization in situ closely correlates with soil carbon availability across six North American forest ecosystems. Biogeochemistry. 99: 175-191.


    soil free amino acid, glycine, 13C, soil C and N, mineralizable C, forest soils

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