Changes in soil microbial biomass and residual indices as ecological indicators of land use change in temperate permanent grassland.
The relationship between microbial biomass, residues and their contribution to microbial turnover is important to understand ecosystem C storage. The effects of permanent grassland (100 % ryegrass—PG), conversion to modified grassland (mixture of grass and clover—MG) or maize monoculture (MM) on the dynamics of soil organic C (SOC), microbial biomass, fungal ergosterol and microbial residues (bacterial muramic acid and fungal glucosamine) were investigated. Cattle slurry was applied to quantify the effects of fertilisation on microbial residues and functional diversity of microbial community across land use types. Slurry application significantly increased the stocks of microbial biomass C and S and especially led to a shift in microbial residues towards bacterial tissue. The MM treatment decreased the stocks of SOC, microbial biomass C, N and S and microbial residues compared with the PG and MG treatments at 0–40 cm depth. The MM treatment led to a greater accumulation of saprotrophic fungi, as indicated by the higher ergosterol-to-microbial biomass C ratio and lower microbial biomass C/S ratio compared with the grassland treatments. The absence of a white clover population in the PG treatment caused a greater accumulation of fungal residues (presumably arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), which do not contain ergosterol but glucosamine), as indicated by the significantly higher fungal C-to-bacterial C ratio and lower ergosterol-to-microbial biomass C ratio compared with the MG treatment. In addition to these microbial biomass and residual indices, the community level physiological profiles (CLPP) demonstrated distinct differences between the PG and MG treatments, suggesting the potential of these measurements to act as an integrative indicator of soil functioning.
Murugan, R.; Loges, R.; Taube, F.; Sradnick, A.; Joergensen, R.G. 2014. Changes in soil microbial biomass and residual indices as ecological indicators of land use change in temperate permanent grassland. Microbial Ecology 67 (4), 907-918.