Using the concentration-dependence of respiration arising from glucose addition to estimate in situ concentrations of labile carbon in grassland soil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this study, we first determined the low molecular weight dissolved organic carbon (LMW DOC) concentration-dependent kinetics of soil respiration in a temperate grassland soil sampled on successive occasions. We then used the established relationship to estimate in situ LMW DOC concentrations from basal respiration measurements. C-14-labelled glucose was used as a model substrate and was added to soil over a wide range of concentrations (0.05-4000 mu g C g(-1) DW soil; equivalent to ca. 2.5 mu M-200 mM glucose-C). The time-dependent loss of C-14-glucose to (CO2)-C-14 was similar to previous assessments. The Michaelis-Menten parameter V-max varied between 17 (September 2010) and 42 (October 2010) mu g CO2-C g(-1) h(-1) (corresponding to 1.4-3.5 mu mol CO2 g(-1) h(-1)), while K-m varied between 893 (September 2010) and 1990 (October 2010) mu g glucose-C g(-1) (41-92 mM glucose), thus within the span previously reported for soils, albeit in the higher end of the range. However, the estimates were 6 orders-of-magnitude greater than those found in previous studies in natural waters. A possible methodological reason for this difference was an induced multiphasic concentration dependence, biasing K-m and V-max with high concentrations of LMW DOC. By combining the established concentration dependences with measurements of basal respiration, we estimated in situ concentrations of LMW DOC of 131 (October 2010), 112 January 2011) and 270 (September 2010) mu g LMW DOC g(-1), far exceeding the total DOC concentration in the soil (17-20 mu g DOC g(-1) soil), thus invalidating our approach. We propose a way forward, and suggest that although current estimates of LMW DOC cycling need revision, there is evidence for a rapidly cycling pool of LMW DOC, possibly turning over >30 times per day, that warrants further attention. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biological Sciences


  • Microbial decomposer community, Soil organic matter degradation, Michaelis-Menten kinetics, Substrate loading rates, Carbon sequestration
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-88
JournalSoil Biology & Biochemistry
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch