Dynamics of N2O in vicinity of plant residues: a microsensor approach

Abstract

Aims

Plant residues decomposing within the soil matrix are known to serve as hotspots of N2O production. However, the lack of technical tools for microscale in-situ N2O measurements limits understanding of hotspot functioning. Our aim was to assess performance of microsensor technology for evaluating the temporal patterns of N2O production in immediate vicinity to decomposing plant residues.

Methods

We incorporated intact switchgrass leaves and roots into soil matrix and monitored O2 depletion and N2O production using electrochemical microsensors along with N2O emission from the soil. We also measured residue’s water absorption and b-glucosidase activity on the surface of the residue - the characteristics related to microenvironmental conditions and biological activity near the residue.

Results

N2O production in the vicinity of switchgrass residues began within 0–12 h after the wetting, reached peak at ~0.6 day and decreased by day 2. N2O was higher near leaf than near root residues due to greater leaf N contents and water absorption by the leaves. However, N2O production near the roots started sooner than near the leaves, in part due to high initial enzyme levels on root surfaces.

Conclusion

Electrochemical microsensor is a useful tool for in-situ micro-scale N2O monitoring in immediate vicinity of soil incorporated plant residues. Monitoring provided valuable information on N2O production near leaves and roots, its temporal dynamic, and the factors affecting it. The N2O production from residues measured by microsensors was consistent with the N2O emission from the whole soil, demonstrating the validity of the microsensors for N2O hotspot studies.

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Abbreviations

MUF:

4-Methylumbelliferone

PAS:

Photoacoustic Spectroscopy

Substrate:

4-Methylumbelliferyl-β-D-Glucoside

UV:

Ultraviolet

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Chelsea Mamott and GLBRC communication team for help with figure preparations. We also thank Dr. Dirk Colbry for help with data processing and Maxwell Oerther for assisting in laboratory work.

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Funding

This work was funded in part by the National Science Foundation’s Geobiology and Low Temperature Geochemistry Program (Award 1630399). This material is based upon work supported in part by the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research under Award Number DE-SC0018409. Support for this research was provided by the National Science Foundation Long-term Ecological Research Program (DEB 1832042) at the Kellogg Biological Station, and by Michigan State University AgBioResearch.

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A.K and A.G. designed and directed the project. T.K. and A.G. worked out technical details and performed calibrations for the microsensor experiment. All the authors performed the experiments. K.K., A.K., and A.G processed analyzed the data. All authors discussed the results and K.K. and A.K. wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Kyungmin Kim.

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Kim, K., Kutlu, T., Kravchenko, A. et al. Dynamics of N2O in vicinity of plant residues: a microsensor approach. Plant Soil (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-021-04871-7

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Keywords

  • Zymography
  • N2O hotspot
  • Detritusphere
  • Plant decomposition
  • Switchgrass
  • β-Glucosidase
  • Water absorption