Environmental and microbial controls on microbial necromass recycling, an important precursor for soil carbon stabilization

There is an emerging consensus that microbial necromass carbon is the primary constituent of stable soil carbon, yet the controls on the stabilization process are unknown. Prior to stabilization, microbial necromass may be recycled by the microbial community. We propose that the efficiency of this recycling is a critical determinant of soil carbon stabilization rates. Here we explore the controls on necromass recycling efficiency in 27 UK grassland soils using stable isotope tracing and indicator species analysis. We found that recycling efficiency was unaffected by land management. Instead, recycling efficiency increased with microbial growth rate on necromass, and was highest in soils with low historical precipitation. We identified bacterial and fungal indicators of necromass recycling efficiency, which could be used to clarify soil carbon stabilization mechanisms. We conclude that environmental and microbial controls have a strong influence on necromass recycling, and suggest that this, in turn, influences soil carbon stabilization.
© The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Communications Earth & Environment, 2020, available online at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s43247-020-00031-4 . Keywords: carbon cycle; soil microbiology.
Buckeridge, K.M., Mason, K.E., McNamara, N.P. et al. Environmental and microbial controls on microbial necromass recycling, an important precursor for soil carbon stabilization. Commun Earth Environ 1, 36 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-020-00031-4