Publications in peer reviewed journals

10 Publications found
  • Is local trait variation related to total range size of tropical trees?

    Chacón-Madrigal E, Wanek W, Hietz P, Dullinger S
    2018 - PLoS One, 19


    The reasons why the range size of closely related species often varies significantly have intrigued scientists for many years. Among other hypotheses, species with high trait variation were suggested to occupy more diverse environments, have more continuity in their distributions, and consequently have larger range sizes. Here, using 34 tree species of lowlands tropical rainforest in southern Costa Rica, we explored whether inherent trait variability expressed at the local scale in functional traits is related to the species’ total geographical range size. We formed 17 congeneric pairs of one narrow endemic and one widespread species, sampled 335 individuals and measured eight functional traits: leaf area, leaf thickness, leaf dry matter content, specific leaf area, leaf nitrogen content, leaf phosphorus content, leaf nitrogen to phosphorus ratio, and wood specific gravity. We tested whether there are significant differences in the locally expressed variation of individual traits or in multidimensional trait variance between the species in congeneric pairs and whether species’ range size could hence be predicted from local trait variability. However, we could not find such differences between widely distributed and narrow range species. We discuss the possible reasons for these findings including the fact that higher trait variability of widespread species may result from successive local adaptations during range expansion and may hence often be an effect rather than the cause of larger ranges.

  • Significance of dark CO2 fixation in arctic soils

    a Šantrůčková H, Kotas P, Barta J, Urich T, Capek P, Palmtag J, Alves RJE, Biasi C, Diakova K, Gentsch N, Gittel A, Guggenberger G, Hugelius G, Lashchinsky N, Martikainen PJ, Mikutta R, Schleper C, Schnecker J, Schwab C, Shibistova O, Wild B, Richter A
    2018 - Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 119: 11-21


    The occurrence of dark fixation of CO2 by heterotrophic microorganisms in soil is generally accepted, but its importance for microbial metabolism and soil organic carbon (C) sequestration is unknown, especially under Climiting conditions. To fill this knowledge gap, we measured dark 13CO2 incorporation into soil organic matter and conducted a 13C-labelling experiment to follow the 13C incorporation into phospholipid fatty acids as microbial biomass markers across soil profiles of four tundra ecosystems in the northern circumpolar region, where net primary productivity and thus soil C inputs are low. We further determined the abundance of various carboxylase genes and identified their microbial origin with metagenomics. The microbial capacity for heterotrophic CO2 fixation was determined by measuring the abundance of carboxylase genes and the incorporation of 13C into soil C following the augmentation of bioavailable C sources. We demonstrate that dark CO2 fixation occurred ubiquitously in arctic tundra soils, with increasing importance in deeper soil horizons, presumably due to increasing C limitation with soil depth. Dark CO2 fixation accounted on average for 0.4, 1.0, 1.1, and 16% of net respiration in the organic, cryoturbated organic, mineral and permafrost horizons, respectively. Genes encoding anaplerotic enzymes of heterotrophic microorganisms comprised the majority of identified carboxylase genes. The genetic potential for dark CO2 fixation was spread over a broad taxonomic range. The results suggest important regulatory function of CO2 fixation in C limited conditions. The measurements were corroborated by modeling the long-term impact of dark CO2 fixation on soil organic matter. Our results suggest that increasing relative CO2 fixation rates in deeper soil horizons play an important role for soil internal C cycling and can, at least in part, explain the isotopic enrichment with soil depth.

  • In situ observation of localized, sub-mm scale changes of phosphorus biogeochemistry in the rhizosphere

    Kreuzeder A, Santner J, Scharsching V, Oburger E, Hoefer C, Hann S, Wenzel WW
    2018 - Plant and soil, 1-17


    Aims We imaged the sub-mm distribution of labile P and pH in the rhizosphere of three plant species to localize zones and hot spots of P depletion and accumulation along individual root axes and to relate our findings to nutrient acquisition / root exudation strategies in P-limited conditions at different soil pH, and to mobilization pattern of other elements (Al, Fe, Ca, Mg, Mn) in the rhizosphere. Methods Sub-mm distributions of labile elemental patterns were sampled using diffusive gradients in thin films and analysed using laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. pH images were taken using planar optodes. Results We found distinct patterns of highly localized labile P depletion and accumulation reflecting the complex interaction of plant P acquisition strategies with soil pH, fertilizer treatment, root age, and elements (Al, Fe, Ca) that are involved in P biogeochemistry in soil. We show that the plants respond to P deficiency either by acidification or alkalization, depending on initial bulk soil pH and other factors of P solubility. Conclusions P solubilization activities of roots are highly localized, typically around root apices, but may also extend towards the extension / root hair zone.

  • Fate of carbohydrates and lignin in north-east Siberian permafrost soils

    Dao TT, Gentsch N, Mikutta R, Sauheitl L, Shibistova O, Wild B, Schnecker J, Barta J, Capek P, Gittel A, Lashchinskiy N, Urich T, Santruckova H, Richter A, Guggenberger G
    2018 - Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 116: 311-322


    Permafrost soils preserve huge amounts of organic carbon (OC) prone to decomposition under changing climatic conditions. However, knowledge on the composition of soil organic matter (OM) and its transformation and vulnerability to decomposition in these soils is scarce. We determined neutral sugars and lignin-derived phenols, released by trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) and CuO oxidation, respectively, within plants and soil density fractions from the active layer and the upper permafrost layer at three different tundra types (shrubby grass, shrubby tussock, shrubby lichen) in the Northeast Siberian Arctic. The heavy fraction (HF; > 1.6 g mL−1 ) was characterized by a larger enrichment of microbial sugars (hexoses vs. pentoses) and more pronounced lignin degradation (acids vs. aldehydes) as compared to the light fraction (LF; < 1.6 g mL−1 ), showing the transformation from plant residue-dominated particulate OM to a largely microbial imprint in mineral-associated OM. In contrast to temperate and tropical soils, total neutral sugar contents and galactose plus mannose to arabinose plus xylose ratios (GM/AX) decreased in the HF with soil depth, which may indicate a process of effective recycling of microbial biomass rather than utilizing old plant materials. At the same time, lignin-derived phenols increased and the degree of oxidative decomposition of lignin decreased with soil depth, suggesting a selective preservation of lignin presumably due to anaerobiosis. As large parts of the plant-derived pentoses are incorporated in lignocelluloses and thereby protected against rapid decomposition, this might also explain the relative enrichment of pentoses with soil depth. Hence, our results show a relatively large contribution of plantderived OM, particularly in the buried topsoil and subsoil, which is stabilized by the current soil environmental conditions but may become available to decomposers if permafrost degradation promotes soil drainage and improves the soil oxygen supply.

  • Application of stable-isotope labelling techniques for the detection of active diazotrophs

    Angel R, Panhölzl C, Gabriel R, Herbold C, Wanek W, Richter A, Eichorst SA, Woebken D
    2018 - Environ Microbiol, 20: 44-61


    nvestigating active participants in the fixation of dinitrogen gas is vital as N is often a limiting factor for primary production. Biological nitrogen fixation is performed by a diverse guild of bacteria and archaea (diazotrophs), which can be free-living or symbionts. Free-living diazotrophs are widely distributed in the environment, yet our knowledge about their identity and ecophysiology is still limited. A major challenge in investigating this guild is inferring activity from genetic data as this process is highly regulated. To address this challenge, we evaluated and improved several 15 N-based methods for detecting N2 fixation activity (with a focus on soil samples) and studying active diazotrophs. We compared the acetylene reduction assay and the 15 N2 tracer method and demonstrated that the latter is more sensitive in samples with low activity. Additionally, tracing 15 N into microbial RNA provides much higher sensitivity compared to bulk soil analysis. Active soil diazotrophs were identified with a 15 N-RNA-SIP approach optimized for environmental samples and benchmarked to 15 N-DNA-SIP. Lastly, we investigated the feasibility of using SIP-Raman microspectroscopy for detecting 15 N-labelled cells. Taken together, these tools allow identifying and investigating active free-living diazotrophs in a highly sensitive manner in diverse environments, from bulk to the single-cell level.

  • pH-Dependent Bioavailability, Speciation, and Phytotoxicity of Tungsten (W) in Soil Affect Growth and Molybdoenzyme Activity of Nodulated Soybeans

    Oburger E, Cid CV, Preiner J, Hu J, Hann S, Wanek W, Richter A
    2018 - Environmental Science & Technology, in press


    Increasing use of tungsten (W)-based products opened new pathways for W into environmental systems. Due to its chemical alikeness with molybdenum (Mo), W is expected to behave similarly to its “twin element”, Mo; however, our knowledge of the behavior of W in the plant−soil environment remains inadequate. The aim of this study was to investigate plant growth as well as W and nutrient uptake depending on soil chemical properties such as soil pH and texture. Soybean (Glycine max cv. Primus) was grown on two acidic soils differing in soil texture that were either kept at their natural soil pH (pH of 4.5−5) or limed (pH of ≥7) and amended with increasing concentrations of metallic W (control and 500 and 5000 mg kg−1 ). In addition, the activity of molybdoenzymes involved in N assimilation (nitrate reductase) and symbiotic N2 fixation (nitrogenase) was also investigated. Our results showed that the risk of W entering the food web was significantly greater in high-pH soils due to increased solubility of mainly monomeric W. The effect of soil texture on W solubility and phytoavailability was less pronounced compared to soil pH. Particularly at intermediate W additions (W 500 mg kg−1 ), symbiotic nitrogen fixation was able to compensate for reduced leaf nitrate reductase activity. When W soil solution concentrations became too toxic (W 5000 mg kg−1 ), nodulation was more strongly inhibited than nitrogenase activity in the few nodules formed, suggesting a more-efficient detoxification and compartmentalization mechanism in nodules than in soybean leaves. The increasing presence of polymeric W species observed in low-pH soils spiked with high W concentrations resulted in decreased W uptake. Simultaneously, polymeric W species had an overall negative effect on nutrient assimilation and plant growth, suggesting a greater phytotoxicity of W polymers. Our study demonstrates the importance of accounting for soil pH in risk assessment studies of W in the plant−soil environment, something that has been completely neglected in the past.

  • Traits indicating a conservative resource strategy are weakly related to narrow range size in a group of neotropical trees

    Chacón-Madrigal E, Wanek W, Hietz P, Dullinger S
    2018 - Perspectives in Plant Ecology Evolution and Systematics, 32: 30-37


    Biological traits may co-determine differences in geographical range sizes among closely related species. In plants, trait values linked to a conservative resource-use strategy have been hypothesised to be associated with small range sizes. However, the empirical support is mixed and limited to extra-tropical species so far. Here, we analyse the relationship between range size and eight functional traits linked to the plant economics spectrum in congeneric pairs of neotropical tree species of Costa Rica with contrasting range sizes. In the lowland tropical rainforests of southern Costa Rica, we sampled 345 trees from 35 species in 14 genera and measured leaf thickness, leaf dry matter content, specific leaf area, wood specific gravity (WSG), leaf nitrogen (N), leaf phosphorus, leaf potassium and leaf N:P ratio. For each species, we estimated range size as the extent of occurrence using known localities of occurrence. We correlated range sizes with trait data scaled within-genus and with the principal components of the multivariate trait space. WSG was higher and leaf N was lower in species with small range sizes in univariate regression models, although these traits were only weakly related to range size. None of the other six traits was correlated with range size. Results were similar for a model using the principal components of the multivariate trait space, which explained 36% of the variation in species’ extent of occurrence. Again, the traits most strongly associated with the selected components were WSG and leaf N. Although high WSG and low leaf N can be interpreted as indicators of conservative resource-use, we could not detect strong relationships between the respective trait syndrome and range size in our sample of species. Traits related to conservative resource use may hence be involved in determining the range size of the species analysed, but other factors are apparently more important.

  • Amino acid production exceeds plant nitrogen demand in Siberian tundra

    Wild B, Alves RJE, Barta J, Capek P, Gentsch N, Guggenberger G, Hugelius G, Knoltsch A, Kuhry P, Lashchinskiy N, Mikutta R, Palmtag J, Prommer J, Schnecker J, Shibistova O, Takriti M, Urich T, Richter A
    2018 - Environmental Research Letters, 13: 11


    Arctic plant productivity is often limited by low soil N availability. This has been attributed to slow breakdown of N-containing polymers in litter and soil organic matter (SOM) into smaller, available units, and to shallow plant rooting constrained by permafrost and high soil moisture. Using 15N pool dilution assays, we here quantified gross amino acid and ammonium production rates in 97 active layer samples from four sites across the Siberian Arctic. We found that amino acid production in organic layers alone exceeded literature-based estimates of maximum plant N uptake 17-fold and therefore reject the hypothesis that arctic plant N limitation results from slow SOM breakdown. High microbial N use efficiency in organic layers rather suggests strong competition of microorganisms and plants in the dominant rooting zone. Deeper horizons showed lower amino acid production rates per volume, but also lower microbial N use efficiency. Permafrost thaw together with soil drainage might facilitate deeper plant rooting and uptake of previously inaccessible subsoil N, and thereby promote plant productivity in arctic ecosystems. We conclude that changes in microbial decomposer activity, microbial N utilization and plant root density with soil depth interactively control N availability for plants in the Arctic.

  • Full 15N tracer accounting to revisit major assumptions of 15N isotope pool dilution approaches for gross nitrogen mineralization

    Braun J, Mooshammer M, Wanek W, Prommer J, Walker TWN, Rütting T, Richter A
    2018 - Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 117: 16-26
  • A multi-isotopic approach to investigate the influence of land use on nitrate removal in a highly saline lake-aquifer system

    Valiente N, Carrey R, Otero N, Soler A, Sanz D, Muñoz-Martín A, Jirsa F, Wanek W, Gómez-Alday JJ
    2018 - Science of The Total Environment, 631: 649-659


    Endorheic or closed drainage basins in arid and semi-arid regions are vulnerable to pollution. Nonetheless, in the freshwater-saltwater interface of endorheic saline lakes, oxidation-reduction (redox) reactions can attenuate pollutants such as nitrate (NO3-). This study traces the ways of nitrogen (N) removal in the Pétrola lake-aquifer system (central Spain), an endorheic basin contaminated with NO3- (up to 99.2mg/L in groundwater). This basin was declared vulnerable to NO3- pollution in 1998 due to the high anthropogenic pressures (mainly agriculture and wastewaters). Hydrochemical, multi-isotopic (δ18ONO3, δ15NNO3, δ13CDIC, δ18OH2O, and δ2HH2O) and geophysical techniques (electrical resistivity tomography) were applied to identify the main redox processes at the freshwater-saltwater interface. The results showed that the geometry of this interface is influenced by land use, causing spatial variability of nitrogen biogeochemical processes over the basin. In the underlying aquifer, NO3- showed an average concentration of 38.5mg/L (n=73) and was mainly derived from agricultural inputs. Natural attenuation of NO3- was observed in dryland farming areas (up to 72%) and in irrigation areas (up to 66%). In the Pétrola Lake, mineralization and organic matter degradation in lake sediment play an important role in NO3- reduction. Our findings are a major step forward in understanding freshwater-saltwater interfaces as reactive zones for NO3- attenuation. We further emphasize the importance of including a land use perspective when studying water quality-environmental relationships in hydrogeological systems dominated by density-driven circulation.

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