Thresholds in aridity and soil carbon-to-nitrogen ratio govern the accumulation of soil microbial residues

Microbial moribunds after microbial biomass turnover (microbial residues) contribute to the formation and stabilization of soil carbon pools; however, the factors influencing their accumulation on a global scale remain unclear. Here, we synthesized data for 268 amino sugar concentrations (biomarkers of microbial residues) in grassland and forest ecosystems for meta-analysis. We found that soil organic carbon, soil carbon-to-nitrogen ratio, and aridity index were key factors that predicted microbial residual carbon accumulation. Threshold aridity index and soil carbon-to-nitrogen ratios were identified (~0.768 and ~9.583, respectively), above which microbial residues decreased sharply. The aridity index threshold was associated with the humid climate range. We suggest that the soil carbon-to-nitrogen ratio threshold may coincide with a sharp decrease in fungal abundance. Although dominant factors vary between ecosystem and climate zone, with soil organic carbon and aridity index being important throughout, our findings suggest that climate and soil environment may govern microbial residue accumulation.
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Hao, Z., Zhao, Y., Wang, X. et al. Thresholds in aridity and soil carbon-to-nitrogen ratio govern the accumulation of soil microbial residues. Commun Earth Environ 2, 236 (2021).