Aims: To investigate how different tree species affect the composition of SOM and its mineralization in boreal forest ecosystems. Methods: We used pyrolysis GC-MS for molecular-level characterization of the SOM formed under five common boreal tree species at a replicated field experiment similar to 50years after plantation. We incubated soil samples at 4, 9, 14 and 19 degrees C and measured inherent CO2 production and substrate-induced respiration. We then evaluated if the saprotrophic microbial activity and its temperature sensitivity was controlled by the SOM composition. Results: The molecular composition of the SOM emerged as key factor influencing SOM properties in plots with different tree species. Most of the variance in the SOM content was explained by the organo-chemical composition of the SOM. More importantly, the fraction of the microbial community able to utilize the native SOM was largely controlled by the SOM organo-chemical composition. Temperature sensitivity of CO2 production (Q(10)) was not explained by SOM composition. However, the microbial access to different SOM pools varied with temperature. Conclusions: These results bridge the gap between the paradigms of short-term litter and long-term SOM decomposition showing that, on an intermediate timescale (similar to 50 years), boreal tree species affect SOM molecular composition and saprotrophic mineralization rates.
Agricultural and Veterinary sciences (hsv)
Agricultural Science, Forestry and Fisheries (hsv)