Short-term responses and resistance of soil microbial community structure to elevated CO2 and N addition in grassland mesocosms

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Nitrogen (N) addition is known to affect soil microbial communities, but the interactive effects of N addition with other drivers of global change remain unclear. The impacts of multiple global changes on the structure of microbial communities may be mediated by specific microbial groups with different life-history strategies. Here, we investigated the combined effects of elevated CO2 and N addition on soil microbial communities using PLFA profiling in a short-term grassland mesocosm experiment. We also examined the linkages between the relative abundance of r- and K-strategist microorganisms and resistance of the microbial community structure to experimental treatments. N addition had a significant effect on microbial community structure, likely driven by concurrent increases in plant biomass and in soil labile C and N. In contrast, microbial community structure did not change under elevated CO2 or show significant CO2 × N interactions. Resistance of soil microbial community structure decreased with increasing fungal/bacterial ratio, but showed a positive relationship with the Gram-positive/Gram-negative bacterial ratio. Our findings suggest that the Gram-positive/Gram-negative bacteria ratio may be a useful indicator of microbial community resistance and that K-strategist abundance may play a role in the short-term stability of microbial communities under global change.

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