Carbon and nitrogen availability in paddy soil affects rice photosynthate allocation, microbial community composition, and priming: combining continuous 13C labeling with PLFA analysis

  • Ziwei Zhao
  • Tida GeEmail author
  • Anna Gunina
  • Yuhong Li
  • Zhenke Zhu
  • Peiqin Peng
  • Jinshui Wu
  • Yakov Kuzyakov
Regular Article


Background and aims

Carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) availability in soil change microbial community composition and activity and so, might affect soil organic matter (SOM) decomposition as well as allocation of plant assimilates. The study was focused on interactions between C and N availability and consequences for rhizodeposition and microbial community structure in paddy soil.


Rice continuously labeled in a 13CO2 atmosphere was fertilized with either carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) (+C), ammonium sulfate (+N), or their combination (+CN), and unfertilized soil was used as a control. 13C was traced in aboveground and belowground plant biomass, soil organic matter, and microbial biomass. Microbial community composition was analyzed by phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs).


+CN application led to a higher yield and lower root C and N content: 13C assimilated in shoots increased by 1.39-fold and that in roots decreased by 0.75-fold. Correspondingly, after +CN addition, 13C from rhizodeposits incorporated into SOM and microorganisms decreased by 0.68-fold and 0.53-fold, respectively, as compared with that in the unfertilized soil. The application of +C or + N alone resulted in smaller changes. CMC led to a 3% of total N mobilized from SOM and resulted in a positive priming effect. Both fertilizations (+C, +N, or + CN) and plant growth stages affected soil microbial community composition. With decreasing microbial biomass C and N, and PLFA content under +CN amendment, +CN fertilization decreased Gram-positive (G+)/ Gram-negative (G-) ratios, and resulted in lower G+ bacteria and fungi abundance, whereas G- and actinomycetes were stimulated by N fertilization.


Organic C fertilization led to a positive N priming effect. Organic C and mineral N application decreased C input by rhizodeposition associated with lower 13C recovery in SOM and microbial incorporation. C and N addition also altered microbial community composition, as +CN decreased content of microbial groups, such as G+ bacteria and fungi, but +N stimulated G- bacteria and actinomycetes.


GC-IRMS Continuous 13CO2 labeling Belowground photosynthate allocation Rice rhizodeposition N priming effect Phospholipid fatty acid analysis 



This study was supported by the National Key Research and Development program [grant number, 2017YFD0800104]; the National Natural Science Foundation of China [grant numbers, 41761134095; 31470629]; the Youth Innovation Team Project of Institute of Subtropical Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Sciences [grant number, 2017QNCXTD_GTD]; and Program between Georg-August-Universität Göttingen and the China Scholarship Council (CSC). The publication was supported by the Russian Government Program of Competitive Growth of Kazan Federal University and with the support of the “RUDN University program 5-100”. We thank the Public Service Technology Center, Institute of Subtropical Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Sciences for technical assistance.

Supplementary material

11104_2018_3873_MOESM1_ESM.docx (110 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 109 kb)


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural Soil Science, Department of Soil Science of Temperate EcosystemsGeorg-August University of GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Agro-ecological Processes in Subtropical Region & Changsha Research Station for Agricultural and Environmental Monitoring, Institute of Subtropical AgricultureChinese Academy of SciencesHunanChina
  3. 3.Department of Soil Biology and BiochemistryDokuchaev Soil Science InstituteMoscowRussia
  4. 4.College of Environmental Science and EngineeringCentral South University of Forestry and TechnologyChangshaChina
  5. 5.Agro-Technology InstituteRUDN UniversityMoscowRussia
  6. 6.Institute of Environmental SciencesKazan Federal UniversityKazanRussia

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