Microbial response to the addition of glucose in low-fertility soils

F.C. Hoyle, Daniel Murphy, P.C. Brookes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

69 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Addition of soluble organic substrates to soil has been shown to either increase or restrict the rate of microbial CO2–C evolution. This has been attributed to a priming effect resulting from accelerated or decreased turnover of the soil organic matter including the soil microflora. We investigated microbial responses to small glucose-C additions (10–50 μg C g1 soil) in arable soils either amended or not with cellulose. An immediate CO2–C release between 0 and 69 h (equivalent to 59% of glucose-C applied) was measured. However, only half of the CO2–C respired could be attributed to the utilisation of glucose-C substrate, based on the percentage of 14C–CO2 evolved after the addition of a 14C-labelled glucose tracer. Thus, although no evidence of an immediate release of ‘extra’ C above the rate applied as glucose-C was observed, the pattern of decomposition for 14C-glucose suggested utilisation of an alternate C source. Based on this, a positive priming effect (1.5 to 4.3 times the amount CO2–C evolved that was attributed to glucose-C decomposition) was observed for at least 170 h in non-cellulose-amended soil and 612 h in cellulose-amended soil. Two further phases of microbial activity in cellulose-amended soils were attributed to either activation of different microbial populations or end-product inhibition of cellulase activity after glucose addition. During these subsequent phases, a negative priming effect of between 0.1 and 1.5 times was observed. Findings indicate that the response of the microbial community to small additions of soluble organic C substrate is not consistent and support the premise that microbial response varies in a yet to be predicted manner between soil type and ecosystems. We hypothesise that this is due to differences in the microbial community structure activated by the addition of organic C and the timing of soluble organic substrate addition with respect to the current dissolved organic C status of the soil.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-579
JournalBiology and Fertility of Soils
Volume44
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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