Substrate control of sulphur utilisation and microbial stoichiometry in soil: Results of 13C, 15N, 14C, and 35S quad labelling

Global plant sulphur (S) deficiency is increasing because of a reduction in sulphate-based fertiliser application combined with continuous S withdrawal during harvest. Here, we applied 13C, 15N, 14C, and 35S quad labelling of the S-containing amino acids cysteine (Cys) and methionine (Met) to understand S cycling and microbial S transformations in the soil. The soil microorganisms absorbed the applied Cys and Met within minutes and released SO42− within hours. The SO42− was reutilised by the MB within days. The initial microbial utilisation and SO42− release were determined by amino acid structure. Met released 2.5-fold less SO42− than Cys. The microbial biomass retained comparatively more C and S from Met than Cys. The microorganisms decomposed Cys to pyruvate and H2S whereas they converted Met to α-ketobutyrate and S-CH3. The microbial stoichiometries of C, N, and S derived from Cys and Met were balanced after 4 d by Cys-derived SO42− uptake and Met-derived CO2 release. The microbial C:N:S ratio dynamics showed rapid C utilisation and loss, stable N levels, and S accumulation. Thus, short-term organic S utilisation by soil microorganisms is determined by amino acid structure whilst long-term organic S utilisation by soil microorganisms is determined by microbially controlled stoichiometry. © 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to International Society for Microbial Ecology.

Ma Q.1, 2 , Kuzyakov Y. 3, 4, 5 , Pan W.1 , Tang S.1 , Chadwick D.R.2 , Wen Y.2 , Hill P.W.2 , Macdonald A.6 , Ge T.7 , Si L.8 , Wu L.1 , Jones D.L.2, 9
Springer Nature
  • 1 Zhejiang Provincial Key Laboratory of Agricultural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Education Key Lab of Environmental Remediation and Ecosystem Health, College of Environmental and Resource Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China
  • 2 School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, Gwynedd, United Kingdom
  • 3 Department of Soil Science of Temperate Ecosystems, Department of Agricultural Soil Science, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
  • 4 Agro-Technological Institute, RUDN University, Moscow, Russian Federation
  • 5 Institute of Environmental Sciences, Kazan Federal University, Kazan, Russian Federation
  • 6 Sustainable Agriculture Sciences Department, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Herts, United Kingdom
  • 7 State Key Laboratory for Managing Biotic and Chemical Threats to the Quality and Safety of Agro-products, Key Laboratory of Biotechnology in Plant Protection of Ministry of Agriculture and Zhejiang Province, Institute of Plant Virology, Ningbo University, Ningbo, China
  • 8 Institute of Environment and Resource & Soil Fertilizer, Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Hangzhou, China
  • 9 SoilsWest, UWA School of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Western Australia, Perth, WA, Australia
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