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Title: Investigating rhizosphere controls of soil organic matter dynamics in forest soils using a 13C labelling approach
Author: Jackson, Oyindamola Ibitola
ISNI:       0000 0004 7967 2132
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2019
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Rising atmospheric CO2 concentration may increase plant productivity through the "CO2 fertilization effect", which may in turn increase the input of carbon (C) to soils through rhizodeposition or plant residues. However, whether this increase in C input to soils results in greater soil C storage is not clear, as the decomposition of different forms of organic matter and the role of the rhizosphere in the decomposition process remain poorly understood. In this thesis, I investigated the interactions between plant C dynamics and soil microbial processes, and how these interactions control C and nutrient cycling in forest soils. I manipulated soil carbon supply from trees to the rhizosphere both in mesocosms and in the field through either canopy shading or soil trenching. This allowed me to investigate the effect of assimilate C supply on the decomposition of 13C-labelled substrates of varying chemical compositions and structural complexities (glucose, straw, fungal necromass or biochar), and their combined effect on soil organic matter (SOM) decomposition. I found that plant C supply to the rhizosphere had no significant effect on the decomposition of substrates. Similarly, the presence of roots and their associated mycorrhizal fungi had no significant effect on litter mass loss. However, it was found that supply of C from plant to the rhizosphere promoted SOM decomposition by up to two-fold in soils amended with substrates. Although, the addition of both simple and complex substrates stimulated the activities of C, N and P- degrading enzymes, I observed that the activities of these enzymes were significantly greater in soils where a labile substrate (glucose) had been added. The increased activities of C-degrading enzymes suggest that microorganisms were C limited, and the input of labile C substrate alleviated C and energy limitation of enzyme production, allowing microbial communities to mobilize nutrients from decomposition of native SOM. This thesis demonstrates that substrate quality influences SOM decomposition, and that increased availability of labile substrates to the rhizosphere may have implications on forest soil C stocks.
Supervisor: Subke, Jens-Arne ; Quilliam, Richard S. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Soil organic matter ; Rhizosphere ; Stable Isotope ; Priming effect ; Plant-soil interaction ; Soil microbiology ; Soil and the environment ; Plant-soil relationships ; Plant physiology ; Forest soils