Rhizosphere carbon supply accelerates soil organic matter decomposition in the presence of fresh organic substrates



Jackson O, Quilliam R, Stott A, Grant H & Subke J (2019) Rhizosphere carbon supply accelerates soil organic matter decomposition in the presence of fresh organic substrates. Plant and Soil, 440 (1-2), pp. 473-490.

Background and aims Belowground C supply from plant roots may accelerate the decomposition of SOM through the rhizosphere priming effect, but the detailed interaction between substrate quality and rhizosphere C supply is poorly understood. We hypothesize that decomposition of organic matter is enhanced by the combined effect of assimilate C supply to the rhizosphere and substrate amendments. Methods Birch trees (Betula pendula) planted in experimental mesocosms; half of these trees were shaded to reduce the supply of assimilate C to roots and ECM fungi. Either 13C-enriched glucose, straw, fungal necromass or C4 biochar were subsequently added to each mesocosm. CO2 efflux derived from substrates were separated from that derived from native SOM and roots based on the isotopic composition of total respired CO2. Results The addition of all substrates increased fluxes in both un-shaded and shaded treatments, with greatest total CO2 efflux observed in soils amended with straw. Increases in un-labelled CO2 were observed to be greater in the presence of belowground C supply than in mesocosms with shaded trees. Conclusions Turnover of SOM is closely linked to belowground C allocation. The biochemical quality and recalcitrance of litter entering the soil C pool is of critical importance to this priming, as is the interaction with rhizosphere-associated decomposition activity.

Soil CO2 efflux; Ectomycorrhizal fungi; Priming effect; Soil Microbial activity; Stable C isotopes;

Plant and Soil: Volume 440, Issue 1-2

FundersNatural Environment Research Council
Publication date31/07/2019
Publication date online08/05/2019
Date accepted by journal03/04/2019

People (2)


Professor Richard Quilliam
Professor Richard Quilliam

Professor, Biological and Environmental Sciences

Professor Jens-Arne Subke
Professor Jens-Arne Subke

Professor, Biological and Environmental Sciences