Spatial variation in edaphic characteristics is a stronger control than nitrogen inputs in regulating soil microbial effects on a desert grass

Journal of Arid Environments
By: , and 

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Abstract

Increased atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition can have wide-ranging effects on plant community structure and ecosystem function, some of which may be indirectly mediated by soil microbial responses to an altered biogeochemical environment. In this study, soils from a field N fertilization experiment that spanned a soil texture gradient were used as inocula in the greenhouse to assess the indirect effects of soil microbial communities on growth of a desert grass. Plant performance and interaction with soil microbiota were evaluated via plant above- and belowground biomass, leaf N concentration, and root fungal colonization. Nitrogen fertilization in the field increased the benefits of soil microbial inoculation to plant leaf N concentration, but did not alter the effect of soil microbes on plant growth. Plant-microbe interaction outcomes differed most strongly among sites with different soil textures, where the soil microbial community from the sandiest site was most beneficial to host plant growth. The findings of this study suggest that in a desert grassland, increases in atmospheric N deposition may exert a more subtle influence on plant-microbe interactions by altering plant nutrient status, whereas edaphic factors can alter the whole-plant growth response to soil microbial associates.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Spatial variation in edaphic characteristics is a stronger control than nitrogen inputs in regulating soil microbial effects on a desert grass
Series title Journal of Arid Environments
DOI 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2017.03.005
Volume 142
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Southwest Biological Science Center
Description 7 p.
First page 59
Last page 65