Photoautotrophic microorganisms as a carbon source for temperate soil invertebrates

2016 | journal article. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​Photoautotrophic microorganisms as a carbon source for temperate soil invertebrates​
Schmidt, O.; Dyckmans, J. & Schrader, S.​ (2016) 
Biology Letters12(1) art. 20150646​.​ DOI: 

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Schmidt, Olaf; Dyckmans, Jens; Schrader, Stefan
We tested experimentally if photoautotrophic microorganisms are a carbon source for invertebrates in temperate soils. We exposed forest or arable soils to a (CO2)-C-13-enriched atmosphere and quantified C-13 assimilation by three common animal groups: earthworms (Oligochaeta), springtails (Hexapoda) and slugs (Gastropoda). Endogeic earthworms (Allolobophora chlorotica) and hemiedaphic springtails (Ceratophysella denticulata) were highly C-13 enriched when incubated under light, deriving up to 3.0 and 17.0%, respectively, of their body carbon from the microbial source in 7 days. Earthworms assimilated more C-13 in undisturbed soil than when the microbial material was mixed into the soil, presumably reflecting selective surface grazing. By contrast, neither adult nor newly hatched terrestrial slugs (Deroceras reticulatum) grazed on algal mats. Non-photosynthetic (CO2)-C-13 fixation in the darkwas negligible. We conclude from these preliminary laboratory experiments that, in addition to litter and root-derived carbon from vascular plants, photoautotrophic soil surface microorganisms (cyanobacteria, algae) may be an ecologically important carbon input route for temperate soil animals that are traditionally assigned to the decomposer channel in soil food web models and carbon cycling studies.
Issue Date
Royal Soc
Biology Letters 
1744-957X; 1744-9561



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