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Soil extracellular enzyme activities correspond with abiotic factors more than fungal community composition

  • Author(s): Kivlin, Stephanie N
  • Treseder, Kathleen K
  • et al.

Soil extracellular enzymes are the proximal drivers of decomposition. However, the relative influence of climate, soil nutrients and edaphic factors compared to microbial community composition on extracellular enzyme activities (EEA) is poorly resolved. Determining the relative effects of these factors on soil EEA is critical since changes in climate and microbial species composition may have large impacts on decomposition. We measured EEA from five sites during the growing season in March and 17 sites during the dry season in July throughout southern California and simultaneously collected data on climate, soil nutrients, soil edaphic factors and fungal community composition. The concentration of carbon and nitrogen in the soil and soil pH were most related to hydrolytic EEA. Conversely, oxidative EEA was mostly related to mean annual precipitation. Fungal community composition was not correlated with EEA at the species, genus, family or order levels. The hyphal length of fungi was correlated with EEA during the growing season while relative abundance of taxa within fungal phyla, in particular Chytridiomycota, was correlated with the EEA of beta-glucosidase, cellobiohydrolase, acid phosphatase and beta-xylosidase in the dry season. Overall, in the dry season, 35.3� % of the variation in all enzyme activities was accounted for by abiotic variables, while fungal composition accounted for 27.4� %. Because global change is expected to alter precipitation regimes and increase nitrogen deposition in soils, EEA may be affected, with consequences for decomposition.

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