Much of what scientists think about soil metabolism may be wrong.
Much of what scientists think about soil metabolism may be wrong. New evidence from Northern Arizona University suggests that microbes in different soils use different biochemical pathways to process nutrients, respire and grow. The study, published in Plant and Soil, upends long-held assumptions in the field of soil ecology and calls for more investigation and higher-resolution methods to be applied to what has been a black box for the field.
“As ecologists, we generally don’t think about soil metabolism in terms of pathways,” said Paul Dijkstra, research professor of biology in the Center for Ecosystem Science and Society at NAU and lead author of the study. “But we now have evidence that metabolism differs from soil to soil. We’re the first to see that.”
“We’ve learned that biochemistry—more specifically, the metabolic pathways the soil microbiota chooses—matters, and it matters a lot,” said co-author Michaela Dippold, a professor of geo-biosphere interactions at University of Tübingen in Germany. “Our field urgently needs to develop experimental approaches that quantify maintenance energy demand and underlying respiration in a robust way. It’s a challenge to which future soil ecology research will have to respond.”
Read more at: Northern Arizona University