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Functions of Natural Organic Matter in Changing Environment
20
13; Pages: 813 - 816

How Important Is Microbial Biodiversity in Controlling the Mineralisation of Soil Organic Matter?

Phil Brookes, Sarah Kemmitt

Institute of Soil and Water Resources, Zhejiang University.
Abstract

Nearly all soil organic matter is extensively humified, with some fractions existing for more than 1,000 years. Soil microorganisms are surrounded by about 50 times their mass of soil organic matter but can only metabolise it very slowly (‘basal mineralisation’ rate). Here, we show that the rate-limiting step in soil organic matter mineralisation is independent of microbial biomass size, community structure or activity. We suggest that the rate-limiting step is governed by abiological processes (the ‘regulatory gate’ hypothesis). This has significant implications for our understanding of carbon mineralisation in soils and the role of soil microorganisms in the global carbon cycle.

Keywords: Soil organic matter mineralisation; Regulatory gate; Microbial diversity; Microbial biomass


 

 

 
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