Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 2166–2175 | Cite as

Response of nitrogen transformation to glucose additions in soils at two subtropical forest types subjected to simulated nitrogen deposition

  • Hongliang MaEmail author
  • Yunfeng Yin
  • Ren Gao
  • Raza Taqi
  • Xinhua HeEmail author
Soils, Sec 1 • Soil Organic Matter Dynamics and Nutrient Cycling • Research Article



Soil nitrogen (N) transformation is an important phenomenon in forest ecosystems and it is regulated by carbon (C) input. This study aimed to evaluate the impacts of labile C levels on soil N mineralization under different simulated N deposition rates.

Materials and methods

Soils at 0–15-cm depth were collected from two contrasting subtropical forests, a coniferous fir forest (CFF) and an evergreen broadleaf forest (EBF); both soils had been subjected to 3 years of artificial NH4NO3 input or deposition (no-N control, N0; low N (30 kg N ha−1 year−1; N30), and high N (100 kg N ha−1 year−1); N100). The impacts of external glucose-C (G) on N mineralization of these N-deposited soils were investigated by the addition of six C rates (mg C kg−1 dry weight soil—0, G0; 100, G100; 300, G300; 1000, G1000; 2000, G2000; and 5000, G5000), at a temperature of 25 °C, and a 60% water-holding capacity for 21 days.

Results and discussion

The results showed that, after 21 days of incubation, concentrations of inorganic N (NH4+–N and NO3–N) decreased significantly (P < 0.05) with increasing C rates and reached a minimum value when the added C rate was ≥ G1000. The lowest NH4+–N under G1000 was 9.2 mg kg−1 in all of these three N-deposited soils at the CFF site while 11.6 mg kg−1 in the N30 soil at the EBF site. The concentration of NO3–N was decreased to 0 under G1000 and G2000 in the CFF and EBF soils, respectively. These results revealed that the higher the soil NO3–N concentration was, the greater the NO3–N reduced, with a maximum decrease of 80 mg NO3–N kg−1 in the N100 soil from the EBF site. In addition, the soil mineralization and nitrification rates were significantly higher (P < 0.05) in soils from the EBF than from the CFF site and increased with N in soils subjected to simulated N deposition. However, the net N transformation rates also decreased with C addition and had the minimum value at G1000.


Our results suggested that there could be a critical C level at which N transformation being altered in certain soils, based on their N status, and that the impacts of C on soil N mineralization were independent of soil N availability.


Carbon level Forest soil Nitrogen deposition Nitrate immobilization Nitrogen transformation 



The authors thank Cunlan Wei and Jingfu Wang for their assistance in soil sampling and analyses. The authors also acknowledge three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and research suggestions.


This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31170578, 31770659, 31470628, and 31570607).


  1. Bowden RD, Deem L, Plante AF, Peltre C, Nadelhoffer K, Lajtha K (2014) Litter input controls on soil carbon in a temperate deciduous forest. Soil Sci Soc Am J 78(S1):S66–S75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Burger M, Jackson LE (2003) Microbial immobilization of ammonium and nitrate in relation to ammonification and nitrification rates in organic and conventional cropping systems. Soil Biol Biochem 35:29–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chen FS, Duncan DS, Hu XF, Liang C (2014) Exogenous nutrient manipulations alter endogenous extractability of carbohydrates in decomposing foliar litters under a typical mixed forest of subtropics. Geoderma 214:19–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cheng Y, Wang J, Wang JY, Chang SX, Wang SQ (2017) The quality and quantity of exogenous organic carbon input control microbial NO3 immobilization: a meta-analysis. Soil Biol Biochem 115:357–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Côté L, Brown S, Paré D, Fyles J, Bauhus J (2000) Dynamics of carbon and nitrogen mineralization in relation to stand type, stand age and soil texture in the boreal mixedwood. Soil Biol Biochem 32:1079–1090CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Davidsson TE, Ståhl M (2000) The influence of organic carbon on nitrogen transformations in five wetland soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 64:1129–1136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dodla SK, Wang JJ, DeLaune RD, Cook RL (2008) Denitrification potential and its relation to organic carbon quality in three coastal wetland soils. Sci Total Environ 407:471–480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fanin N, Hättenschwiler S, Barantal S, Schimann H, Fromin N (2011) Does variability in litter quality determine soil microbial respiration in an Amazonian rainforest? Soil Biol Biochem 43:1014–1022CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Farrell M, Prendergast-Miller M, Jones DL, Hill PW, Condron LM (2014) Soil microbial organic nitrogen uptake is regulated by carbon availability. Soil Biol Biochem 77:261–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Futter MN, Ring E, Högbom L, Entenmann S, Bishop KH (2010) Consequences of nitrate leaching following stem-only harvesting of Swedish forests are dependent on spatial scale. Environ Pollut 158:3552–3559CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Galloway JN, Townsend AR, Erisman JW, Bekunda M, Cai ZC, Freney JR, Martinelli LA, Seitzinger SP, Sutton MA (2008) Transformation of the nitrogen cycle: recent trends, questions, and potential solutions. Science 320:889–892CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gao WL, Cheng SL, Fang HJ, Chen Y, Yu G, Zhou M, Zhang PL, Xu MJ (2013) Effects of simulated atmospheric nitrogen deposition on inorganic nitrogen content and acidification in a cold-temperate coniferous forest soil. Acta Ecol Sin 33:114–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Geisseler D, Horwath WR (2008) Regulation of extracellular protease activity in soil in response to different sources and concentrations of nitrogen and carbon. Soil Biol Biochem 40:3040–3048CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gilliam FS, Lyttle NL, Thomas A, Adams MB (2005) Soil variability along a nitrogen mineralization and nitrification gradient in a nitrogen-saturated hardwood forest. Soil Sci Soc Am J 69:247–256Google Scholar
  15. He P, Wan SZ, Fang XM, Wang FC, Chen FS (2016) Exogenous nutrients and carbon resource change the responses of soil organic matter decomposition and nitrogen immobilization to nitrogen deposition. Sci Rep 6:23717. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hobbie JE, Hobbie EA (2013) Microbes in nature are limited by carbon and energy: the starving-survival lifestyle in soil and consequences for estimating microbial rates. Front Microbiol 4:324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hoyle FC, Murphy DV, Brookes PC (2008) Microbial response to the addition of glucose in low-fertility soils. Biol Fertil Soils 44:571–579CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Huygens D, Rütting T, Boeckx P, Van Cleemput O, Godoy R, Müller C (2007) Soil nitrogen conservation mechanisms in a pristine south Chilean Nothofagus forest ecosystem. Soil Biol Biochem 39:2448–2458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jordan TE, Weller DE, Correll DL (1998) Denitrification in surface soils of a riparian forest: effects of water, nitrate and sucrose additions. Soil Biol Biochem 30:833–843CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Li HC, Hu YL, Mao R, Zhao Q, Zeng DH (2015) Effects of nitrogen addition on litter decomposition and CO2 release: considering changes in litter quantity. PLoS One 10:e0144665. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lin CF, Yang YS, Guo JF, Chen GS, Xie JS (2011) Fine root decomposition of evergreen broadleaved and coniferous tree species in mid-subtropical China: dynamics of dry mass, nutrient and organic fractions. Plant Soil 338:311–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Liu XJ, Duan L, Mo JM, Du EZ, Shen JL, Lu XK, Zhang Y, Zhou XB, He CE, Zhang FS (2011) Nitrogen deposition and its ecological impact in China: an overview. Environ Pollut 159:2251–2264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Liu XJ, Zhang Y, Han WX, Tang AH, Shen JL, Cui ZL, Vitousek P, Erisman JW, Goulding K, Christie P, Fangmeier A, Zhang FS (2013) Enhanced nitrogen deposition over China. Nature 494:459–462CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ma Q, Wu ZJ, Shen SM, Zhou H, Jiang CM, Xu YG, Liu R, Yu WT (2015) Responses of biotic and abiotic effects on conservation and supply of fertilizer N to inhibitors and glucose inputs. Soil Biol Biochem 89:72–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ma HL, Gao R, Yin YF, Yang YS (2016) Effects of leaf litter tannin on soil ammonium and nitrate content in two different forest soils of mount Wuyi, China. Toxicol Environ Chem 98:395–409CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ma HL, Pei GT, Gao R, Yin YF (2017) Mineralization of amino acids and its signs in nitrogen cycling of forest soil. Acta Ecol Sin 37:60–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Magill AH, Aber JD (2000) Variation in soil net mineralization rates with dissolved organic carbon additions. Soil Biol Biochem 32:597–601CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Montaño NM, García-Oliva F, Jaramillo VJ (2007) Dissolved organic carbon affects soil microbial activity and nitrogen dynamics in a Mexican tropical deciduous forest. Plant Soil 295:265–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mooshammer M, Wanek W, Hämmerle I, Fuchslueger L, Hofhans F, Knoltsch A, Schnecker J, Takriti M, Watzka M, Wild B, Keiblinger KM, Zechmeister-Boltenstern S, Richter A (2014) Adjustment of microbial nitrogen use efficiency to carbon: nitrogen imbalances regulates soil nitrogen cycling. Nat Commun 5:3694. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Myrold DD, Posavatz NR (2007) Potential importance of bacteria and fungi in nitrate assimilation in soil. Soil Biol Biochem 39:1737–1743CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nidzgorski DA, Hobbie SE (2016) Urban trees reduce nutrient leaching to groundwater. Ecol Appl 26:1566–1580CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Portillo-Estrada M, Korhonen JFJ, Pihlatie M, Pumpanen J, Frumau AKF, Morillas L, Tosens T, Niinemets Ü (2013) Inter- and intra-annual variations in canopy fine litterfall and carbon and nitrogen inputs to the forest floor in two European coniferous forests. Ann For Sci 70:367–379CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Qiu SJ, Ju XT, Ingwersen J, Guo ZD, Stange CF, Bisharat R, Streck T, Christie P, Zhang FS (2013) Role of carbon substrates added in the transformation of surplus nitrate to organic nitrogen in a calcareous soil. Pedosphere 23:205–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Reddy N, Crohn DM (2014) Effects of soil salinity and carbon availability from organic amendments on nitrous oxide emissions. Geoderma 235–236:363–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rukshana F, Butterly CR, Xu JM, Baldock JA, Tang C (2013) Soil organic carbon contributes to alkalinity priming induced by added organic substrates. Soil Biol Biochem 65:217–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Shi YL, Cui SH, Ju XT, Cai ZC, Zhu YG (2015) Impacts of reactive nitrogen on climate change in China. Sci Rep 5:8118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Soil Survey Staff (2014) Keys to soil taxonomy, 12th edn. USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  38. Szili-Kovács T, Török K, Tilston EL, Hopkins DW (2007) Promoting microbial immobilization of soil nitrogen during restoration of abandoned agricultural fields by organic additions. Biol Fertil Soils 43:823–828CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Taylor PG, Townsend AR (2010) Stoichiometric control of organic carbon–nitrate relationships from soils to the sea. Nature 464:1178–1181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Trinsoutrot I, Recous S, Mary B, Nicolardot B (2000) C and N fluxes of decomposing 13C and 15N Brassica napus L.: effects of residue composition and N content. Soil Biol Biochem 32:1717–1730CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Vesterdal L, Schmidt IK, Callesen I, Nilsson LO, Gundersen P (2008) Carbon and nitrogen in forest floor and mineral soil under six common European tree species. For Ecol Manag 255:35–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Vitousek PM (2004) Nutrient cycling and limitation: Hawaii as a model system. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  43. Wang H, Liu SR, Wang JX, Shi ZM, Xu J, Hong PZ, Ming AG, Yu HL, Chen L, Lu LH, Cai DX (2016) Differential effects of conifer and broadleaf litter inputs on soil organic carbon chemical composition through altered soil microbial community composition. Sci Rep 6:27097. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Xia SW, Chen J, Schaefer D, Detto M (2015) Scale-dependent soil macronutrient heterogeneity reveals effects of litter fall in a tropical rainforest. Plant Soil 391:51–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Xiong YM, Zeng H, Xia HP, Guo DL (2014) Interactions between leaf litter and soil organic matter on carbon and nitrogen mineralization in six forest litter-soil systems. Plant Soil 379:217–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Xu YB, Xu ZH (2015) Effects of land use change on soil gross nitrogen transformation rates in subtropical acid soils of Southwest China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22:10850–10860CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Xu XL, Ouyang H, Cao GM (2007) Nitrogen retention patterns and their controlling factors in an alpine meadow: implications for carbon sequestration. Biogeosci Discuss 4:2641–2665CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Yamasaki A, Tateno R, Shibata H (2011) Effects of carbon and nitrogen amendment on soil carbon and nitrogen mineralization in volcanic immature soil in southern Kyushu, Japan. J For Res 16:414–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Yang YH, Luo YQ, Finzi AC (2011) Carbon and nitrogen dynamics during forest stand development: a global synthesis. New Phytol 190:977–989CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Yazdanpanah N, Mahmoodabadi M, Cerdà A (2016) The impact of organic amendments on soil hydrology, structure and microbial respiration in semiarid lands. Geoderma 266:58–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Zaehle S (2013) Terrestrial nitrogen–carbon cycle interactions at the global scale. Philos Trans R Soc B 368:20130125. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Zhang W, Mo JM, Yu G, Fang YT, Li DJ, Lu XK, Wang H (2008) Emissions of nitrous oxide from three tropical forests in southern China in response to simulated nitrogen deposition. Plant Soil 306:221–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Zhang B, Wang HL, Yao SH, Bi LD (2013) Litter quantity confers soil functional resilience through mediating soil biophysical habitat and microbial community structure on an eroded bare land restored with mono Pinus massoniana. Soil Biol Biochem 57:556–567CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Zhang JB, Sun WJ, Zhong WH, Cai ZC (2014) The substrate is an important factor in controlling the significance of heterotrophic nitrification in acidic forest soils. Soil Biol Biochem 76:143–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Zhao W, Cai ZC, Xu ZH (2007) Does ammonium-based N addition influence nitrification and acidification in humid subtropical soils of China? Plant Soil 297:213–221CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory for Humid Subtropical Eco-geographical Process of the Ministry of EducationFujian Normal UniversityFuzhouChina
  2. 2.School of Geographical ScienceFujian Normal UniversityFuzhouChina
  3. 3.University of Agriculture Faisalabad Sub CampusBurewalaPakistan
  4. 4.Centre of Excellence for Soil Biology, College of Resources and EnvironmentSouthwest UniversityChongqingChina
  5. 5.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia

Personalised recommendations