Saturday, May 9, 2009

Relation between N mineralization and latitude

The global distribution of soils is a function of climate and thus is related to latitude. Consequently, soil processes are known to vary with latitude. But a recent study by Jones et al. (2009) which used soils collected from 40 latitudinal points from the Arctic through to Antarctica, showed that this is not the case for key soil processes like the turnover of amino acids (amino acids represent a key pool of carbon and nitrogen in soil and their availability to plants and microorganisms is considered a major driver in regulating ecosystem functioning). They found that “soil solution amino acid concentrations were relatively similar between sites and not strongly related to latitude. In addition, when constraints of temperature and moisture were removed, they demonstrated that soils worldwide possess a similar innate capacity to rapidly mineralize amino acids. Similarly, they showed that the internal partitioning of amino acid-C into catabolic and anabolic processes is conservative in microbial communities and independent of global position. This supports the view that the conversion of high molecular weight (MW) organic matter to low MW compounds is the rate limiting step in organic matter breakdown in most ecosystems.”


Jones DL, K Kielland, FL Sinclair, R A Dahlgren, KK Newsham, JF Farrar, DV Murphy. 2009. Soil organic nitrogen mineralization across a global latitudinal gradient. Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 23, GB1016, doi:10.1029/2008GB003250

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