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Changes in soil organic matter and microbial communities after fine and coarse residues inputs from Mediterranean tree species

Brunel C., Gros R., Lerch T.Z., Farnet Da Silva A.M.. 2020. Applied Soil Ecology, 149 : 10 p..

DOI: 10.1016/j.apsoil.2020.103516

Trees residues decomposition is a key step in forested ecosystems. In the context of sclerophyllous Mediterranean forests, the effects of residue quality on soil organic matter and microbial communities is still poorly documented. Using a mesocosm experiment, we explored microbial responses (enzyme activities, basal respiration, molecular fingerprints and catabolic profiles) and variations in soil chemical properties (pH, CaCO3, organic C and N contents, quality of soil organic matter via 13C CP/MAS NMR) induced by coarse woody debris (W) or fine residues (i.e. twigs -leaves/needles, hereafter TL) from mono-specific or mixed stands of Pinus halepensis and Quercus ilex, P. sylvestris and Q. pubescens. After a nineteen-month incubation period, we found that the origin of residues (Pinus spp. stand, Quercus spp. stand or mixed stand) shaped the genetic structure of both fungal and bacterial communities. TL inputs led to higher soil N content and increased enzyme activities and bacterial biomass. Aromatic compounds and C to N ratio increased with W inputs, strongly shaped fungal communities and increased tyrosinase activity. Thus, the type of residue and the tree species identity (Quercus spp. vs Pinus spp.) appeared to modulate the balance between fungal and bacterial biomass and soil microbial diversity. Our results revealed that logging residues management, by modulating the type of residues remaining on forest floor, could have significant impacts on soil functioning by modifying both chemical properties (e.g. soil C/N ratio) and microbial structure and functions. These findings need to be supported by in natura studies since deciphering such mechanisms controlling C fluxes in forest soils has important consequences under the context of climate change.

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