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See detailDo climate warming and plant species richness affect potential nitrification, basal respiration and ammonia-oxidizing bacteria in experimental grasslands?
Malchair, Sandrine ULg; De Boeck, Hans, J.; Lemmens, Catherine, M.H.M. et al

in Soil Biology & Biochemistry (2010), 42

Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) are key organisms in the N cycle, as they control the first, rate-limiting step of the nitrification process. The question whether current environmental disturbances, such ... [more ▼]

Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) are key organisms in the N cycle, as they control the first, rate-limiting step of the nitrification process. The question whether current environmental disturbances, such as climate warming and plant diversity losses, select for a particular community structure of AOB and/or influence their activity remains open. The purpose of this research was to study the impact of a 3 °C warming and of plant species richness (S) on microbial activity and diversity in synthesized grasslands, with emphasis on the nitrification process and on the diversity (community structure and richness) of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB).We measured soil chemical characteristics, basal respiration, potential nitrification and AOB diversity in soils under increasing plant species richness (S ¼ 1, S ¼ 3, S ¼ 9) at ambient and (ambient +3 °C) temperature. Species were drawn from a 9-species pool, belonging to three functional groups: forbs, legumes and grasses. Mixtures comprised species from each of the three functional groups. Warming did not affect AOB diversity and increased potential nitrification at S ¼ 3 only. Under warmed conditions, higher plant species richness resulted in increased potential nitrification rates. AOB richness increased with plant species richness. AOB community structure of monocultures under legumes differed from those under forbs and grasses. Clustering analysis revealed that AOB community structure under legume monocultures and mixtures of three and nine species grouped together. These results indicate that functional group identity rather than plant species richness influenced AOB community structure, especially through the presence of legumes. No clear relationship emerged between AOB richness and potential nitrification whatever plant species richness and temperature treatment. Our findings show a link between aboveground and belowground diversity, namely plant species richness, AOB richness and community structure. AOB richness was not related to soil processes, supporting the idea that increased diversity does not necessarily lead to increased rates of ecosystem processes. [less ▲]

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See detailMicrobial biomass and C and N transformations in forest floors under European beech, sessile oak, Norway spruce and Douglas-fir at four temperate forest sites
Malchair, Sandrine ULg; Carnol, Monique ULg

in Soil Biology & Biochemistry (2009), 41

The purpose of this research was to compare soil chemistry, microbially mediated carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) transformations and microbial biomass in forest floors under European beech (Fagus sylvatica L ... [more ▼]

The purpose of this research was to compare soil chemistry, microbially mediated carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) transformations and microbial biomass in forest floors under European beech (Fagus sylvatica L), sessile oak (Quercus petraea (Mattuschka) Lieblein), Norway spruce (Picea abies (L) Karst) and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirbel) Franco) at four study sites. We measured soil chemical characteristics, net N mineralization, potential and relative nitrification, basal respiration, microbial and metabolic quotient and microbial biomass C and N under monoculture stands at all sites (one mixed stand). Tree species affected soil chemistry, microbial activities and biomass. but these effects 'varied between sites. Our results indicated that the effect of tree species on net N mineralization was likely to be mediated through their effect on soil microbial biomass, reflecting their influence on organic matter content and carbon availability. Differences in potential nitrification and relative nitrification might be related to the presence of ground vegetation through its influence on soil NH4 and labile C availability. Our findings highlight the need to study the effects of tree species on microbial activities at several sites to elucidate complex N cycle interactions between tree species, ground vegetation, soil characteristics and microbial processes. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailNiche differentiation among neotropical soldierless soil-feeding termites revealed by stable isotope ratios
Bourguignon, Thomas; Sobotnik, Jan; Lepoint, Gilles ULg et al

in Soil Biology & Biochemistry (2009), 41

Termites represent one of the most abundant belowground animal taxa in tropical rainforests, where their species richness is much higher than in any other ecosystem. This high diversity in soil ecosystems ... [more ▼]

Termites represent one of the most abundant belowground animal taxa in tropical rainforests, where their species richness is much higher than in any other ecosystem. This high diversity in soil ecosystems is however difficult to explain by classical Hutchinsonian niche theory, as there is little evidence for spatial or temporal separation between species. Using δ13C and δ15N isotopic ratios, we tested if resource partitioning along the humification gradient occurs in neotropical soldierless termites of the Anoplotermes-group. Two distinct sites were investigated to check if interspecific differences are transposable between sites. Significant differences in δ15N were found between species of the Anoplotermes-group. Although some species displayed higher intersite δ15N variation than others, species-average δ15N values for both sites were highly correlated, showing that sympatric soldierless soil-feeding termites feed on distinct components of the soil. Our data also suggest that some species are more likely to shift along this gradient than others, in response to overall habitat conditions or to the presence of competitors. Feeding niche differentiation can therefore account for the high species richness and diversity of soldierless soil-feeding termites in neotropical rainforests. [less ▲]

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See detailNitrosomonas europaea-like bacteria detected as the dominant beta-subclass Proteobacteria ammonia oxidisers in reference and limed acid forest soils
Carnol, Monique ULg; Kowalchuk, G. A.; De Boer, W.

in Soil Biology & Biochemistry (2002), 34

Net nitrification in intact soil cores and the community of ammonia-oxidising bacteria were studied in acid Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst) and sessile oak (Quercus petraea (Matt. Lieb.)) soils ... [more ▼]

Net nitrification in intact soil cores and the community of ammonia-oxidising bacteria were studied in acid Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst) and sessile oak (Quercus petraea (Matt. Lieb.)) soils (Haute Ardenne, east Belgium) 18 months after treatment with 5 t ha(-1) dolomite lime. Liming caused a significant increase in nitrification in the upper soil layers (0.15 m) of both stands. DGGE (denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis) profiling after P-subclass ammonia oxidiser-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR), combined with hybridisation and sequencing of excised DGGE bands revealed a dominance of Nitrosomonas europaea-like sequences, independent of soil horizon, tree species and lime treatment. A minority Nitrosospira-like population was detected, which showed affinity to nitrosospiras previously detected in acid soil. These results contrast with several reports suggesting a dominance of Nitrosospira-like organisms among ammonia oxidiser communities in acid soils. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailEnvironmental factors controlling NO3- leaching, N2O emissions and numbers of NH4+ oxidisers in a coniferous forest soil
Carnol, Monique ULg; Ineson, Phil

in Soil Biology & Biochemistry (1999), 31

Main and interactive effects of temperature, throughfall volume and NH4+ deposition on soil solution NO3- concentrations, N2O emissions and numbers of NH4+ oxidisers were investigated in a controlled ... [more ▼]

Main and interactive effects of temperature, throughfall volume and NH4+ deposition on soil solution NO3- concentrations, N2O emissions and numbers of NH4+ oxidisers were investigated in a controlled laboratory experiment. Large intact soil cores from a Picea abies (L.) Karat. stand were incubated according to an 'incomplete factorial design' at 4, 12 or 20 degrees C and watered every 2 weeks with 300, 500 or 700 ml (442, 737 and 1032 mm yr(-1)) of a natural throughfall solution enriched with 0, 37.5 or 75 kg NH4+-N ha(-1) yr(-1). Watering and sampling were performed every 2 weeks, during a 112 d period. At d 112, a temperature optimum for NO3--N concentrations in the leachate, NO3--N fluxes and numbers of NH4+ oxidisers in the mineral soil layer was determined at ca. 11 degrees C. NO3--N concentrations also decreased with throughfall volume, towards a minimum at 590 ml, with temperature however contributing most to modelling NO3--N concentrations and the two factors acting independently. The model explained 59% of the variability in the data, and the regression between observed and predicted concentrations was highly significant (P < 0.0001, r(2) = 0.93). NO3--N fluxes increased quadratically with throughfall volume, and throughfall volume and NH4+ deposition interacted significantly in determining the numbers of NH4+ oxidisers in the mineral soil layer. Numbers of NH4+ oxidisers were higher in the humus layer and decreased with increasing temperatures. N2O fluxes increased quadratically with temperature, and the linear and quadratic effects of throughfall volume (maximum at 500 ml). Results suggest that optimum temperatures for net nitrification may have been overestimated in previous studies by the use of disturbed soils. [less ▲]

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