The effect of compost on carbon cycling in soil

Sunday, 15 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Esther Singer, Joint Genome Institute, Walnut Creek, CA
Rangelands cover an estimated 40-70% of global landmass, approximately one-third of the landmass of the United States and half of California. The soils of this vast land area has high carbon (C) storage capacity, which makes it an important target ecosystem for the mitigation of greenhouse gas emission and effects on climate change, in particular under land management techniques that favor increased C sequestration rates. While microbial communities are key players in the processes responsible for C storage and loss in soils, we have barely shed light on these highly complex processes in part due to the tremendous and seemingly intractable diversity of microbes, largely uncultured, that inhabit soil ecosystems. In our study, we compare Mediterranean grassland soil plots that were amended with greenwaste of various C:N ratios and biochar in a single event. Monthly subsampling of control and amended plots over the course of six months was performed in the top surface layer (0-5 cm). We present data on greenhouse gas emissions and budgets of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and micronutrients in dependence of amendment types and seasonality. Changes in the active members of the soil microbial community were assessed using a novel approach combining flow cytometry and metagenomic sequencing disclosing “who does what”. This is the first study revealing the nature of actively metabolizing microbial community members linked to the geochemical characteristics of compost-amended soil.