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Spatial variability of soil fungal and bacterial abundance: Consequences for carbon turnover along a transition from a forested to clear-cut site

  • Carolyn Churchland
  • Sue J. Grayston
  • Per Bengtson
Publishing year: 2013
Language: English
Pages: 5-13
Publication/Series: Soil Biology & Biochemistry
Volume: 63
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract english

Predicted alterations in belowground plant-allocated C as a result of environmental change may cause compositional shifts in soil microbial communities, and it has been hypothesized that such alterations will influence C mitigation in forest ecosystems. In order to investigate to what degree living trees influence the abundance and activity of mycorrhizal fungi, saprotrophic fungi, and bacteria we used a geostatistical approach to examine natural abundance stable-isotope-ratios of soil microbial PLFAs, respired CO2, and different soil organic C pools in a 100 point grid extending from an area of retention trees into a clear-cut area. Labile C from trees was the major source of C for the fungal communities and influenced the composition of the microbial community and soil respiration rates up to ten meters into the clear-cut. When the input of labile plant C decreased, it appeared that microorganisms became increasingly dependent on recycled C released during microbial turnover, resulting in a decrease in soil respiration. Our findings demonstrate that plants not only influence the structure and function of soil microbial communities but also act as important regulators of belowground C flux, soil C sequestration and, ultimately, soil C stocks. (c) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Biological Sciences
  • Carbon cycling
  • Soil microorganisms
  • Forests
  • Spatial variation
  • C-13
  • natural abundance
  • CO2
  • Clear-cut


  • ISSN: 0038-0717
Per Bengtson
E-mail: per [dot] bengtson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se



+46 46 222 37 60


Sölvegatan 37, Lund


Research group

Microbial Ecology


Doctoral students and postdocs

PhD students, main supervisor


PhD students, assistant supervisor

Jian Li

Experimental setup