Integration of Metagenomic and Biogeochemical Data from Soils Sampled from a Long-Term Reciprocal Transplant
Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 8:15 AM
The long-term impacts of climate conditions on soil ecosystems are difficult to discern with sufficient resolution to underpin a predictive understanding of ecosystem response to global climate change. The structure and function of the microbial community is intimately linked to soil organic carbon (SOC) by both the deposition of new carbon, and metabolism and respiration of existing SOC. We are studying the resilience of the microbial community, and the vulnerability of the soil carbon reservoirs, to changing climate conditions using a reciprocal soil transplant experiment initiated in 1994 in eastern Washington. Soil cores were reciprocally transplanted between two elevations (310 m and 844 m); the lower site is warmer and drier with 0.8% soil carbon, and the upper site is cooler and wetter with 1.8% soil carbon. We resampled these cores in 2012-13 to analyze the structure of the microbial community, biochemical activities of carbohydrate-active enzymes, and the soil carbon and nitrogen content. We hypothesized that microbial and biochemical dynamics developed under cool, moist conditions would destabilize under hot, dry conditions, such that carbon and nitrogen losses would be faster in warmer climate soils than the accruals in cooler climate soils. Metagenomics data analyses show that the microbial communities below 5 cm depth in the transplanted soils are most similar to those in the native and control soils from their original (pre-1994) location, whereas the surface microbial community has been influenced by their new (post-1994) location. Enzyme activities are highest in soils from the cooler, moister location, and the activities of the reciprocally transplanted soils are shifting toward the activities typical of their new location. Integration of these results with high-resolution mass spectrometry data of the soil carbon moieties will contribute to our fundamental understanding of climate change effects on the terrestrial ecosystem carbon cycle.