Hao Chen Klaus A. Jarosch Éva Mészáros Emmanuel Frossard Xiaorong Zhao Astrid Oberson
Soil drying and rewetting (DRW) events are expected to occur at higher frequencies because of alterations in climate patterns. Readily extractable inorganic and microbial soil phosphorus (P) pools may be affected due to rapid changes in soil water availability. We aimed to determine how soil P dynamics are affected by repeated soil DRW using a sandy grassland soil that regularly experiences DRW. In a laboratory soil incubation study, the soil was exposed to three DRW cycles, with each cycle consisting of a two-day drying phase, a three-day dryness phase and a four-day moist phase after rapid rewetting. The indicators of abiotic processes (P sorption) and biotic processes (respiration, microbial abundance, potential phosphatase enzyme activities) were regularly determined together with water-extractable P, resin-extractable P and microbial P in a 33P-labelled soil. During the first DRW cycle, microbial P was reduced by half and accompanied by a concomitant but not equivalent increase in water-extractable P and a slight as well as delayed increase in resin-extractable P. Thus, increases in water-extractable P were explained by microbial P released during drying but also by microbial P occupying soil P sorption sites, thereby decreasing soil P sorption. Changes in the 33P-isotopic composition of microbial P at the same time suggested that microorganisms did not respond homogenously to the DRW treatment and indicated an increased mineralisation of previously unavailable organic P compounds. However, during the second and third DRW cycles, only water-extractable P, soil P sorption and potential phosphatase activities were affected by the DRW treatment, whereas all other parameters remained similar in values to the constant moist treatment. The effects of DRW on soil P dynamics appeared to affect water-extractable P more long-lastingly, whereas microbial P and most of the biotic indicators quickly adjusted to the DRW treatment. We conclude that the current concepts suggesting an increased mobility of soil P towards other environmental compartments due to soil DRW should consider that abiotic and biotic soil P dynamics are not equally affected in the case of short repetition of DRW incidences.
Drying-rewetting; P dynamics; Microbial P turnover; 33P isotopic dilution