Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 55, Issue 4, pp 339–350 | Cite as

Priming alters soil carbon dynamics during forest succession

  • Na Qiao
  • Juan Wang
  • Xingliang XuEmail author
  • Youxin Shen
  • Xi’en Long
  • Yuehua Hu
  • Douglas Schaefer
  • Shenggong Li
  • Huimin Wang
  • Yakov Kuzyakov
Original Paper


The mechanisms underlying soil organic carbon (C) dynamics during forest succession remain challenged because amount, quality, and composition of C inputs change with tree growth and species composition. Soils were collected from two stages (grassland and young secondary forest) of secondary succession after the clear-cut of primary old-growth forest due to land-use change, with a native old-growth forest (undisturbed for more than 200 years) as the reference. Soil samples were incubated for 170 days and the priming effects were quantified by one pulse addition of 13C-labeled glucose. 13C-PLFAs (phospholipid fatty acids) were analyzed to identify microbial functional groups utilizing glucose and to explore their accordance with SOM priming during succession. Soil C was primed much more strongly in young secondary forest than in grassland or old-growth forest. Priming resulted in large C losses (negative net C balance) in young-forest soil, whereas C stocks increased in grassland and old-growth forest (positive net C balance). Microbial composition assessed by PLFA and utilization of easily available organics (13C-PLFA) indicated that fungi were mainly responsible for priming in young-forest soil. Consequently, labile C released by litter decomposition and root exudation together with the availability of soil nutrients determines microbial functional groups that decompose soil organic matter during initial succession. These findings provide novel ecological connections between soil organic matter dynamics and C (de)stabilization with microbial functioning during forest succession and show that priming direction and intensity is important to distinguish soil C dynamics in young- and old-growth forests.


13C-PLFA Forest succession Old-growth forest Priming effect Soil carbon dynamic Young secondary forest 


Funding information

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41830646, 41601318, 31470560, and 41671031), the general financial grant from the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2016M600123) and the national key research and development program of China (2016YFC0502503), and Youth Innovation Research Team Project (LENOM2016Q0004). The publication was supported by the Government Program of Competitive Growth of Kazan Federal University and with the support of the “RUDN University program 5-100.”

Supplementary material

374_2019_1351_MOESM1_ESM.doc (164 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 164 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and ModelingChinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchBeijingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest EcologyChinese Academy of Sciences, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical GardenMenglaChina
  3. 3.Institute of Urban EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesXiamenChina
  4. 4.School of Geographic SciencesNantong UniversityNantongChina
  5. 5.Department of Soil Science of Temperate Ecosystems, Department of Agricultural Soil ScienceUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  6. 6.Institute of Environmental SciencesKazan Federal UniversityKazanRussia
  7. 7.Agro-Technological InstituteRUDN UniversityMoscowRussia

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