Science Inventory

FATTY ACID STABLE ISOTOPE INDICATORS OF MICROBIAL CARBON SOURCE IN TROPICAL SOILS

Citation:

Burke Jr., R A. AND M Molina. FATTY ACID STABLE ISOTOPE INDICATORS OF MICROBIAL CARBON SOURCE IN TROPICAL SOILS. Presented at Soil Science Society of America Annual Meeting, Denver, CO, November 2-6, 2003.

Impact/Purpose:

The overall objective of this task is to develop quantitative relationships for assessing the vulnerability of aquatic resources to global change. The task will contribute experimental and modeling tools for assessments of the interactions of global climate and UV changes with coral reefs and selected watersheds and estuaries in the U.S. These activities are contributing primarily to two APGs in the ecosystems component of the Global Change Research Multiyear Plan: the 2006 APG (APG 3) on building the capacity to assess global change impacts on coastal aquatic ecosystems, including coral reefs and estuaries and the 2004 APG (APG 2) on building capacity to assess and respond to global change impacts on selected watersheds. One major task objective is to assess interactions of global warming and UV exposure that are contributing to the observed coral bleaching and disease. Our lab is working with scientists at the NHEERL Gulf Ecology Lab to characterize UV exposure and effects at several coral reef sites. Other research in this task is examining the interactions between UV-induced breakdown of refractory organic matter in estuaries and coastal areas that enhance UV penetration into the water and concurrently form biologically-labile nitrogen-, phosphorus- and carbon-containing substances that stimulate productivity and microbial activity. This task also involves research in central Brazil that is part of the Large Scale Biosphere Atmosphere Experiment (LBA). The objectives of this project are to assess the impacts of land use and climatic changes on soil nutrient cycles and microbiota, trace gas exchange and water quality in the Brazilian cerrado. This work involves a close collaboration between EPA and a group of scientists from the Department of Ecology, University of Brasilia, Brazil. Other objectives of this task are to assess the interactions of land use and climate changes with the ecological functioning of streams in watersheds of the Piedmont region of the southestern U.S.

Description:

The soil microbial community plays an important role in tropical ecosystem functioning because of its importance in the soil organic matter (SOM) cycle. We have measured the stable carbon isotopic ratio (delta13C) of individual phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs) in a variety of tropical ecosystems that have undergone land use change. In each case the native vegetation, which used the C3 photosynthetic pathway, was replaced with plants that use the C4 photosynthetic pathway (i.e.,sugar cane or pasture grass). Our results imply that delta13C of PLFAs are effective indicators of microbial substrate delta13C in aerobic soils. We further suggest that PLFA delta13C measurements applied to soil chronosequences can be useful indicators of the continued contribution of C3-derived SOM to ecosystem function under the new land use. Our results indicate that the turnover time of C3-derived organic matter varies from about one year to about 50 years in the tropical ecosystems that we have studied.

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/ABSTRACT)
Product Published Date: 11/02/2003
Record Last Revised: 06/21/2006
Record ID: 63026

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LABORATORY

ECOSYSTEMS RESEARCH DIVISION

ECOSYSTEMS ASSESSMENT BRANCH