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Seasonal variations of soil microbial biomass and activity in warm- and cool-season turfgrass systems

Yao, Huaiying, Bowman, Daniel, Shi, Wei
Soil biology & biochemistry 2011 v.43 no.7 pp. 1536-1543
Agrostis stolonifera var. palustris, Cynodon dactylon, Eremochloa ophiuroides, Festuca arundinacea, Poa pratensis, Zoysia japonica, enzyme activity, microbial activity, microbial biomass, mineralization, plant growth, seasonal variation, soil, soil enzymes, soil sampling, turf grasses, winter
Plant growth can be an important factor regulating seasonal variations of soil microbial biomass and activity. We investigated soil microbial biomass, microbial respiration, net N mineralization, and soil enzyme activity in turfgrass systems of three cool-season species (tall fescue, Festuca arundinacea Schreb., Kentucky bluegrass, Poa pratensis L., and creeping bentgrass, Agrostis palustris L.) and three warm-season species (centipedegrass, Eremochloa ophiuroides (Munro.) Hack, zoysiagrass, Zoysia japonica Steud, and bermudagrass, Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.). Microbial biomass and respiration were higher in warm- than the cool-season turfgrass systems, but net N mineralization was generally lower in warm-season turfgrass systems. Soil microbial biomass C and N varied seasonally, being lower in September and higher in May and December, independent of turfgrass physiological types. Seasonal variations in microbial respiration, net N mineralization, and cellulase activity were also similar between warm- and cool-season turfgrass systems. The lower microbial biomass and activity in September were associated with lower soil available N, possibly caused by turfgrass competition for this resource. Microbial biomass and activity (i.e., microbial respiration and net N mineralization determined in a laboratory incubation experiment) increased in soil samples collected during late fall and winter when turfgrasses grew slowly and their competition for soil N was weak. These results suggest that N availability rather than climate is the primary determinant of seasonal dynamics of soil microbial biomass and activity in turfgrass systems, located in the humid and warm region.