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Liang C and TC Balser. 2012. Warming and nitrogen deposition lessen microbial residue contribution to soil carbon pool. Nature Communications 3: doi:10.1038/ncomms2224
Year Published: 2012

Microorganisms have a role as gatekeepers for terrestrial carbon fluxes, either causing its release to the atmosphere through their decomposition activities or preventing its release by stabilizing the carbon in a form that cannot be easily decomposed. Although research has focused on microbial sources of greenhouse gas production, somewhat limited attention has been paid to the microbial role in carbon sequestration. However, increasing numbers of reports indicate the importance of incorporating microbial-derived carbon into soil stable carbon pools. Here we investigate microbial residues in a California annual grassland after a continuous 9-year manipulation of three environmental factors (elevated CO2, warming and nitrogen deposition), singly and in combination. Our results indicate that warming and nitrogen deposition can both alter the fraction of carbonderived from microbes in soils, though for two very different reasons. A reduction in microbial carbon contribution to stable carbon pools may have implications for our predictions of global change impacts on soil stored carbon.