Microbial Functional Diversity Associated with Plant Litter Decomposition Along a Climatic Gradient

Chen Sherman, Yosef Steinberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Predicted changes in climate associated with increased greenhouse gas emissions can cause increases in global mean temperature and changes in precipitation regimes. These changes may affect key soil processes, e. g., microbial CO2 evolution and biomass, mineralization rates, primary productivity, biodiversity, and litter decomposition, which play an important role in carbon and nutrient cycling in terrestrial ecosystems. Our study examined the changes in litter microbial communities and decomposition along a climatic gradient, ranging from arid desert to humid Mediterranean regions in Israel. Wheat straw litter bags were placed in arid, semi-arid, Mediterranean, and humid Mediterranean sites. Samples were collected seasonally over a 2-year period in order to evaluate mass loss, litter moisture, C/N ratio, bacterial colony-forming units (CFUs), microbial CO2 evolution and biomass, microbial functional diversity, and catabolic profile. Decomposition rate was the highest during the first year of the study at the Mediterranean and arid sites. Community-level physiological profile and microbial biomass were the highest in summer, while bacterial CFUs were the highest in winter. Microbial functional diversity was found to be highest at the humid Mediterranean site, whereas substrate utilization increased at the arid site. Our results support the assumption that climatic factors control litter degradation and regulate microbial activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-415
Number of pages17
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Volume64
Issue number2
Early online date21 Mar 2012
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is part of the Ph.D. thesis of Chen Sherman. We wish to thank Mrs. Gineta Barness for technical assistance and Ms. Sharon Victor for her useful comments. Special thanks to Dr. Marcelo Sternberg for useful advice and for allowing us to use the GLOWA Jordan River Project study sites. This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant number 1272/08).

Funding

This research is part of the Ph.D. thesis of Chen Sherman. We wish to thank Mrs. Gineta Barness for technical assistance and Ms. Sharon Victor for her useful comments. Special thanks to Dr. Marcelo Sternberg for useful advice and for allowing us to use the GLOWA Jordan River Project study sites. This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant number 1272/08).

FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation1272/08

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