If microbial degradation of carbon substrates in arctic soil is stimulated by climatic warming, this would be a significant positive feedback on global change. With data from a climate change experiment in Northern Sweden we show that warming and enhanced soil nutrient availability, which is a predicted long-term consequence of climatic warming and mimicked by fertilization, both increase soil microbial biomass. However, while fertilization increased the relative abundance of fungi, warming caused only a minimal shift in the microbial community composition based on the phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) and neutral lipid fatty acid (NLFA) profiles. The function of the microbial community was also differently affected, as indicated by stable isotope probing of PLFA and NLFA. We demonstrate that two decades of fertilization have favored fungi relative to bacteria, and increased the turnover of complex organic compounds such as vanillin, while warming has had no such effects. Furthermore, the NLFA-to-PLFA ratio for (13)C-incorporation from acetate increased in warmed plots but not in fertilized ones. Thus, fertilization cannot be used as a proxy for effects on warming in arctic tundra soils. Furthermore, the different functional responses suggest that the biomass increase found in both fertilized and warmed plots was mediated via different mechanisms.
Effect of environmental factors on fungal and bacterial growth in soil