Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 185–197 | Cite as

Organic carbon quality, composition of main microbial groups, enzyme activities, and temperature sensitivity of soil respiration of an acid paddy soil treated with biochar

  • Junhui Chen
  • De Chen
  • Qiufang XuEmail author
  • Jeffry J. Fuhrmann
  • Lianqing LiEmail author
  • Genxing Pan
  • Yongfu Li
  • Hua Qin
  • Chenfei Liang
  • Xuan Sun
Original Paper


The role of soil organic C (SOC) quality affecting microbial community composition and function under biochar application is poorly understood. We investigated the relationship between the pool size and chemical composition of SOC; composition of main microbial groups; enzyme activities involved in C, N, and P cycling; and soil respiration in a rice paddy amended with biochar for 20 months in a laboratory experiment at 15, 25, and 35 °C. Soil labile and recalcitrant organic C pools were determined by a two-step sulfuric acid (H2SO4) hydrolysis method. The chemical composition of SOC was determined with 13C-nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The biochar amendment at 20 and 40 t ha−1 significantly decreased the soil labile C pool I (extracted by 5 N H2SO4), alkyl, and carbonyl C contents and increased the recalcitrant C pool (acid-resistant) and aromatic C contents and the aromatic C to O-alkyl C ratio. The phospholipid-fatty acid concentrations and soil enzyme activities were unchanged by biochar application at 10 and 20 t ha−1, but both were increased at 40 t ha−1. Biochar increased the ratio of gram-positive (G+) to gram-negative (G−) bacteria and decreased that of fungi to bacteria. The recalcitrant C pool and aromatic C contents were positively correlated to the G+ bacteria abundance and were important factors in shaping composition of the main microbial groups and improving enzyme activities. Biochar application at 40 t ha−1 lowered soil respiration rates at 15 and 25 °C by decreasing labile C pool and increasing C recalcitrancy while increased temperature sensitivities of soil respiration at 25/15 °C and 35/25 °C by stimulating microbial abundance and enzyme activities. Together, our results suggest that biochar soil amendment shifted microbial community composition and function through influencing the composition of SOC.


Biochar 13C NMR Phospholipid-fatty acids Soil microbial respiration Soil organic carbon Temperature sensitivity 



We thank Dr. Paolo Nannipieri, the Editor-in-Chief, and the anonymous reviewers for their very valuable comments in improving both the language and scientific quality of the manuscript.

Funding information

This work was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under grant numbers 41401318, 41371298, and 31470626, and the Natural Science Foundation of Zhejiang Province under grant number LGF18C160001.

Supplementary material

374_2018_1333_MOESM1_ESM.docx (179 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 178 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Subtropical Silviculture, Zhejiang Provincial Key Laboratory of Carbon Cycling in Forest Ecosystems and Carbon Sequestration, School of Environmental and Resource SciencesZhejiang A&F UniversityHangzhouChina
  2. 2.Institute of Resource, Ecosystem and Environment of AgricultureNanjing Agricultural UniversityNanjingChina
  3. 3.Institute of Quality and Standard for Agro-productsZhejiang Academy of Agricultural SciencesHangzhouChina
  4. 4.Department of Plant and Soil SciencesUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA

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