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Applied Soil Ecology
Volume 162, 2021, 103884

Priming effects induced by C and N additions in relation to microbial biomass turnover in Japanese forest soils

Kozue Sawadaa, Yoshiyuki Inagakib, Koki Toyotaa

Institute of Symbiotic Science and Technology, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, 2-24-16 Nakacho, Koganeishi, Tokyo 184-8588, Japan.


An understanding of the priming effect (PE), i.e. the effects of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) inputs on the priming of pre-existing soil organic C mineralization, is fundamental to predicting future soil C cycling and climate feedback. Since the direction and magnitude of the PE depend on the turnover of microbial biomass C and N, we evaluated the PE in relation to pre-existing biomass C and N using dual labeling of glucose 13C and mineral 15N for Japanese moderately acidic (pH of 5.0) cedar and strongly acidic (pH of 4.1) cypress soils. The addition of C only to the cedar soil caused no PE with no change in biomass turnover relative to the control without C or N additions. The addition of N with C caused a positive PE, leading to a net loss of soil C stocks, and decreased pre-existing biomass N due to the higher turnover of biomass N relative to the control. The result for the cedar soil was in line with the stoichiometric decomposition theory but not with microbial N mining theory. By contrast, the addition of C only and both C and N to the cypress soil caused a negative PE. Our study revealed that increasing the pre-existing biomass N turnover can lead to a positive PE, accelerating net soil C loss, when the soil pH does not limit microbial activities.

Keywords: Glucose, Japanese forest soil, Microbial biomass, N availability, Priming effect.

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