Environmental drivers and stoichiometric constraints on enzyme activities in soils from rhizosphere to continental scale

Microbial activity and functioning in soils are strongly limited by carbon (C) availability, of which a great proportion is released by living roots. Rhizodeposition and especially root exudates stimulate microbial activity and growth, and may shift the stoichiometric balance between C, N, and P. Thereby, exudates heighten microbial nutrient demand and acquisition of N and P from organic matter, leading to an increase in enzyme production. Aim of this study was to determine environmental controls of extracellular enzyme production, and hence on potential enzyme activities (Vmax) and substrate affinities (Km). To determine the controlling factors, we worked on four spatial scales from the microscale (i.e. rhizosphere) through the mesoscale (i.e. soil depth) and landscape scale (relief positions), and finally to the continental scale (1200 km transect within the Coastal Cordillera of Chile). Kinetics of seven hydrolyzing enzymes of the C, N, and P cycles (cellobiohydrolase, β‑glucosidase, β‑xylosidase, β‑N‑acetylglucosaminidase, leucine‑aminopeptidase, tyrosine‑aminopeptidase, and acid phosphatase) were related to soil texture, C and N contents, pH, and soil moisture via redundancy analysis (RDA). Potential activities of C, N, and P acquiring enzymes increased up to 7-times on the continental scale with rising humidity of sites and C and N contents, while substrate affinities simultaneously declined. On the landscape scale, neither Vmax nor Km of any enzyme differed between north and south slopes. From top- to subsoil (down to 120 cm depth) potential activities decreased (strongest of aminopeptidases under humid temperate conditions with up to 90%). Substrate affinities, however, increased with soil depth only for N and P acquiring enzymes. Affinities of cellobiohydrolase and β‑xylosidase, on the contrary, were 1.5- to 3-times higher in top- than in subsoil. Potential activities of N and P acquiring enzymes and β‑glucosidase increased form bulk to roots. Simultaneously, substrate affinities of N and P acquiring enzymes declined, whereas affinities of β‑glucosidase increased. These trends of activities and affinities in the rhizosphere were significant only for acid phosphatase. The RDA displayed a strong relation of potential activities of C and P acquiring enzymes and β‑N‑acetylglucosaminidase to C and N contents in soil as well as to the silt and clay contents. Aminopeptidase activity was mainly dependent on soil moisture and pH. We conclude that substrate availability for microorganisms mainly determined enzyme activity patterns on the continental scale by the humidity gradient. Patterns on the meso- and microscale are primarily controlled by nutrient limitation, which is induced by a shift of the stoichiometric balance due to input of easily available C by roots in the rhizosphere. © 2018 Elsevier B.V.

Stock S.C.1 , Köster M.2 , Dippold M.A.2 , Nájera F.3 , Matus F.3 , Merino C.3 , Boy J.4 , Spielvogel S.5 , Gorbushina A.6 , Kuzyakov Y. 1, 7, 8
  • 1 Soil Science of Temperate Ecosystems, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
  • 2 Biogeochemistry of Agroecosystems, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
  • 3 Departamento de Ciencias Químicas y Recursos Naturales, Universidad de La Frontera, Temuco, Chile
  • 4 Institute of Soil Science, Leibniz University Hannover, Hannover, Germany
  • 5 Soil Science, University of Kiel, Kiel, Germany
  • 6 Department Materials and Environment, Federal Institute for Material Research and Testing, Berlin, Germany
  • 7 Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science, Russian Academy of Sciences, Pushchino, 142290, Russian Federation
  • 8 Agro-Technology Institute, RUDN University, Moscow, Russian Federation
Extracellular enzymes; Multi-scale study; Nutrient acquisition; Rhizosphere effect; Stoichiometric homeostasis
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