27 Jan 2022
27 Jan 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal SOIL.

Stronger microbial nutrient limitations in subsoil along the precipitation gradient of agroecosystem: Insights from soil enzyme activity and stoichiometry

Jingjing Yang1,2, Pingting Guan1, Peng Zhang2, Yunga Wu1,2, Deli Wang3, and Donghui Wu1,2,4,5 Jingjing Yang et al.
  • 1State Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of Wetland Ecology and Vegetation Restoration, School of Environment, Northeast Normal University, Changchun 130117, China
  • 2Key Laboratory of Wetland Ecology and Environment, Institute of Northeast Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Changchun 130102, China
  • 3Institute of Grassland Science, Key Laboratory of Vegetation Ecology of the Ministry of Education, Jilin Songnen Grassland Ecosystem National Observation and Research Station, Northeast Normal University, Changchun 130024, China
  • 4Key Laboratory of Vegetation Ecology, Ministry of Education, Northeast Normal University, Changchun 130024, China
  • 5Jilin Provincial Key Laboratory of Animal Resource Conservation and Utilization, Northeast Normal University, Changchun 130117, China

Abstract. Soil extracellular enzymes are central in terrestrial ecosystem responses to climate change, and their research can be crucial for assessing microbial nutrient demand. However, the effects of climate-induced precipitation patterns on soil microbial nutrient demand in different soil profiles of agroecosystems are rarely studied. Here, we present how the precipitation gradient affects soil enzymes related to carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) cycling and identified microbial nutrient limitation determinants at five depth intervals (0–10, 10–20, 20–30, 30–40 and 40–50 cm) in seven agroecosystems. We found that N- and P- acquiring enzymes have a tendency to increase or decrease, but C- acquiring enzymes did not change along the precipitation gradient throughout soil profiles. Soil pH and moisture were the most important factors affecting the enzyme activity in 0–50 cm. Our results also revealed a crucial soil boundary (at 20 cm) that differentiated responses of microbial nutrient limitation to precipitation changes. In the topsoil (0–20 cm), the stoichiometry of soil nutrients did not vary with precipitation. Microbial P limitation was exacerbated with increased precipitation, which was controlled by soil pH and moisture in the topsoil. In contrast, in the subsoil (20–50 cm), soil nutrient stoichiometry decreased with increasing precipitation, and microbial C and P limitation displayed a positive correlation with precipitation. Furthermore, microbial P limitation tended to be stronger in the subsoil than in the topsoil along the precipitation gradient. Microbial C and P limitation was regulated by the soil nutrients and their stoichiometry in the subsoil. Our study is an essential step in soil enzyme activity and stoichiometry response to precipitation in agroecosystems and provides novel insights into understanding microbial nutrient limitation mechanisms in soil profiles along the precipitation gradient.

Jingjing Yang et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on soil-2021-140', Anonymous Referee #1, 09 Apr 2022
    • CC1: 'Reply on RC1', Jingjing Yang, 02 Jun 2022
    • CC2: 'Reply on RC1', Jingjing Yang, 02 Jun 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Donghui Wu, 02 Jun 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on soil-2021-140', Anonymous Referee #2, 23 Jul 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Donghui Wu, 06 Aug 2022

Jingjing Yang et al.

Jingjing Yang et al.


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Short summary
Understanding the key processes by which precipitation threatens microbial nutrient limitation allows the assessment of nutrient trade-offs in agroecosystems, which can help us meet crop production goals under change in precipitation. We observed an increase in microbial P limitation in the topsoil and a stronger limitation of microbial C and P in the subsoil compared to the topsoil and elucidated the differentiation of mechanisms among the soil profiles of agroecosystem.