Laccase gene composition and relative abundance in oak forest soil is not affected by short-term nitrogen fertilization

Christian L Lauber, Robert L Sinsabaugh, Donald R Zak
Microbial Ecology 2009, 57 (1): 50-7
Anthropogenic nitrogen (N) deposition affects a wide range of soil processes including phenol oxidase (PO) activity and soil organic matter dynamics. Depression of phenol oxidase activity in response to N saturation is believed to be mediated by the activity of white-rot basidiomycetes, whose production of extracellular oxidative enzymes can be limited by high N availability. We examined the effect of short-term N deposition on basidiomycete laccase gene diversity and relative abundance in temperate oak forest soil in which significant decreases in phenol oxidase and increased SOM have been recorded in response to experimental N deposition. UniFrac was used to compare the composition of laccase genes between three control- and three nitrogen-fertilized (80 kg(-1) ha(-1) per year) oak forest soils. The relative abundance of laccase genes was determined from qPCR analysis of laccase and basidiomycete ITS gene abundances. Our results indicate that there was no significant shift in the composition of laccase genes between control- and N-fertilized soils, nor was there a significant change in the relative abundance of laccase genes. These data suggest that N deposition effects on mineral soil PO activity do not result from changes in laccase gene diversity of white-rot basidiomycetes but are likely the result of altered microbial abundance or expression in this ecosystem type. Furthermore, laccase gene composition may be tied to factors that structure microbial communities in general, as soil laccase gene communities are more similar to other forest soils than with the corresponding litter.

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