C:N:P stoichiometry and nutrient limitation of the soil microbial biomass in a grazed grassland site under experimental P limitation or excess

BS Griffiths, A Spilles, M Bonkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

88 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Introduction: The availability of essential nutrients, such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), can feed back on soil carbon (C) and the soil microbial biomass. Natural cycles can be supplemented by agricultural fertiliser addition, and we determined whether the stoichiometry and nutrient limitation of the microbial biomass could be affected by an unbalanced nutrient supply. Methods: Samples were taken from a long-term trial (in effect since 1968) with annual applications of 0, 15 and 30 kg P ha−1 with constant N and potassium. Soil and microbial biomass CNP contents were measured and nutrient limitation assessed by substrate-induced respiration. Linear regression and discriminant analyses were used to identify the variables explaining nutrient limitation. Results: Soil and biomass CNP increased with increasing P fertiliser, and there was a significant, positive, correlation between microbial biomass P and biomass C, apart from at the highest level of P fertilisation when the microbial biomass was over-saturated with P. The molar ratios of C:N:P in the microbial biomass remained constant (homeostatic) despite large changes in the soil nutrient ratios. Microbial growth was generally limited by C and N, except in soil with no added P when C and P were the main limiting nutrients. C, N and P, however, did not explain all the growth limitation on the soils with no added P. Conclusions: Increased soil C and N were probably due to increased net primary production. Our results confirm that C:N:P ratios within the microbial biomass were constrained (i.e. homeostatic) under near optimum soil conditions. Soils with no added P were characterised by strong microbial P limitation and soils under high P by over-saturation of microorganisms with P. Relative changes in biomass C:P can be indicative of nutrient limitation within a site.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
JournalEcological Processes
Volume1
DOIs
Publication statusPrint publication - 21 Jun 2012

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stoichiometry
soil nutrients
microbial biomass
grasslands
soil
nutrients
biomass
fertilizers
carbon nitrogen ratio
microbial growth
potassium
microorganisms
phosphorus
nitrogen

Bibliographical note

1023324
1023321

Keywords

  • Carbon
  • Nitrogen
  • Nutrient limitation
  • Phosphorus
  • Soil microbial biomass
  • Stoichiometry

Cite this

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title = "C:N:P stoichiometry and nutrient limitation of the soil microbial biomass in a grazed grassland site under experimental P limitation or excess",
abstract = "Introduction: The availability of essential nutrients, such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), can feed back on soil carbon (C) and the soil microbial biomass. Natural cycles can be supplemented by agricultural fertiliser addition, and we determined whether the stoichiometry and nutrient limitation of the microbial biomass could be affected by an unbalanced nutrient supply. Methods: Samples were taken from a long-term trial (in effect since 1968) with annual applications of 0, 15 and 30 kg P ha−1 with constant N and potassium. Soil and microbial biomass CNP contents were measured and nutrient limitation assessed by substrate-induced respiration. Linear regression and discriminant analyses were used to identify the variables explaining nutrient limitation. Results: Soil and biomass CNP increased with increasing P fertiliser, and there was a significant, positive, correlation between microbial biomass P and biomass C, apart from at the highest level of P fertilisation when the microbial biomass was over-saturated with P. The molar ratios of C:N:P in the microbial biomass remained constant (homeostatic) despite large changes in the soil nutrient ratios. Microbial growth was generally limited by C and N, except in soil with no added P when C and P were the main limiting nutrients. C, N and P, however, did not explain all the growth limitation on the soils with no added P. Conclusions: Increased soil C and N were probably due to increased net primary production. Our results confirm that C:N:P ratios within the microbial biomass were constrained (i.e. homeostatic) under near optimum soil conditions. Soils with no added P were characterised by strong microbial P limitation and soils under high P by over-saturation of microorganisms with P. Relative changes in biomass C:P can be indicative of nutrient limitation within a site.",
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C:N:P stoichiometry and nutrient limitation of the soil microbial biomass in a grazed grassland site under experimental P limitation or excess. / Griffiths, BS; Spilles, A; Bonkowski, M.

In: Ecological Processes, Vol. 1, 6, 21.06.2012.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - C:N:P stoichiometry and nutrient limitation of the soil microbial biomass in a grazed grassland site under experimental P limitation or excess

AU - Griffiths, BS

AU - Spilles, A

AU - Bonkowski, M

N1 - 1023324 1023321

PY - 2012/6/21

Y1 - 2012/6/21

N2 - Introduction: The availability of essential nutrients, such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), can feed back on soil carbon (C) and the soil microbial biomass. Natural cycles can be supplemented by agricultural fertiliser addition, and we determined whether the stoichiometry and nutrient limitation of the microbial biomass could be affected by an unbalanced nutrient supply. Methods: Samples were taken from a long-term trial (in effect since 1968) with annual applications of 0, 15 and 30 kg P ha−1 with constant N and potassium. Soil and microbial biomass CNP contents were measured and nutrient limitation assessed by substrate-induced respiration. Linear regression and discriminant analyses were used to identify the variables explaining nutrient limitation. Results: Soil and biomass CNP increased with increasing P fertiliser, and there was a significant, positive, correlation between microbial biomass P and biomass C, apart from at the highest level of P fertilisation when the microbial biomass was over-saturated with P. The molar ratios of C:N:P in the microbial biomass remained constant (homeostatic) despite large changes in the soil nutrient ratios. Microbial growth was generally limited by C and N, except in soil with no added P when C and P were the main limiting nutrients. C, N and P, however, did not explain all the growth limitation on the soils with no added P. Conclusions: Increased soil C and N were probably due to increased net primary production. Our results confirm that C:N:P ratios within the microbial biomass were constrained (i.e. homeostatic) under near optimum soil conditions. Soils with no added P were characterised by strong microbial P limitation and soils under high P by over-saturation of microorganisms with P. Relative changes in biomass C:P can be indicative of nutrient limitation within a site.

AB - Introduction: The availability of essential nutrients, such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), can feed back on soil carbon (C) and the soil microbial biomass. Natural cycles can be supplemented by agricultural fertiliser addition, and we determined whether the stoichiometry and nutrient limitation of the microbial biomass could be affected by an unbalanced nutrient supply. Methods: Samples were taken from a long-term trial (in effect since 1968) with annual applications of 0, 15 and 30 kg P ha−1 with constant N and potassium. Soil and microbial biomass CNP contents were measured and nutrient limitation assessed by substrate-induced respiration. Linear regression and discriminant analyses were used to identify the variables explaining nutrient limitation. Results: Soil and biomass CNP increased with increasing P fertiliser, and there was a significant, positive, correlation between microbial biomass P and biomass C, apart from at the highest level of P fertilisation when the microbial biomass was over-saturated with P. The molar ratios of C:N:P in the microbial biomass remained constant (homeostatic) despite large changes in the soil nutrient ratios. Microbial growth was generally limited by C and N, except in soil with no added P when C and P were the main limiting nutrients. C, N and P, however, did not explain all the growth limitation on the soils with no added P. Conclusions: Increased soil C and N were probably due to increased net primary production. Our results confirm that C:N:P ratios within the microbial biomass were constrained (i.e. homeostatic) under near optimum soil conditions. Soils with no added P were characterised by strong microbial P limitation and soils under high P by over-saturation of microorganisms with P. Relative changes in biomass C:P can be indicative of nutrient limitation within a site.

KW - Carbon

KW - Nitrogen

KW - Nutrient limitation

KW - Phosphorus

KW - Soil microbial biomass

KW - Stoichiometry

U2 - 10.1186/2192-1709-1-6

DO - 10.1186/2192-1709-1-6

M3 - Article

VL - 1

JO - Ecological Processes

JF - Ecological Processes

M1 - 6

ER -