Journal Article

Roots affect the response of heterotrophic soil respiration to temperature in tussock grass microcosms

Scott L. Graham, Peter Millard, John E. Hunt, Graeme N. D. Rogers and David Whitehead

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 110, issue 2, pages 253-258
Published in print July 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online April 2012 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcs073
Roots affect the response of heterotrophic soil respiration to temperature in tussock grass microcosms

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Aims and Background

While the temperature response of soil respiration (RS) has been well studied, the partitioning of heterotrophic respiration (RH) by soil microbes from autotrophic respiration (RA) by roots, known to have distinct temperature sensitivities, has been problematic. Further complexity stems from the presence of roots affecting RH, the rhizosphere priming effect. In this study the short-term temperature responses of RA and RH in relation to rhizosphere priming are investigated.

Methods

Temperature responses of RA, RH and rhizosphere priming were assessed in microcosms of Poa cita using a natural abundance δ13C discrimination approach.

Results

The temperature response of RS was found to be regulated primarily by RA, which accounted for 70 % of total soil respiration. Heterotrophic respiration was less sensitive to temperature in the presence of plant roots, resulting in negative priming effects with increasing temperature.

Conclusions

The results emphasize the importance of roots in regulating the temperature response of RS, and a framework is presented for further investigation into temperature effects on heterotrophic respiration and rhizosphere priming, which could be applied to other soil and vegetation types to improve models of soil carbon turnover.

Keywords: Soil respiration; heterotrophic; rhizosphere priming; temperature sensitivity; partitioning respiration; Poa cita

Journal Article.  5038 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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