Effects of long-term CO2 enrichment on soil- atmosphere CH4 fluxes and the spatial micro-distribution of methanotrophic bacteria

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Abstract

Background Effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations on plant growth and associated C cycling have intensively been studied, but less is known about effects on the fluxes of radiatively active trace gases other than CO2. Net soil-atmosphere CH4 fluxes are determined by the balance of soil microbially-driven methane (CH4) oxidation and methanogenesis, and both might change under elevated CO2. Methods and Results Here, we studied CH4 dynamics in a permanent grassland exposed to elevated CO2 for 14 years. Soil-atmosphere fluxes of CH4 were measured using large static chambers, over a period of four years. The ecosystem was a net sink for atmospheric CH4 for most of the time except summer to fall when net CH4 emissions occurred. We did not detect any elevated CO2 effects on CH4 fluxes, but emissions were difficult to quantify due to their discontinuous nature, most likely because of ebullition from the saturated zone. Potential methanotrophic activity, determined by incubation of fresh sieved soil under standardized conditions, also did not reveal any effect of the CO2 treatment. Finally, we determined the spatial micro-distribution of methanotrophic activity at less than 5× atmospheric (10 ppm) and elevated (10000 ppm) CH4 concentrations, using a novel auto-radiographic technique. These analyses indicated that domains of net CH4 assimilation were distributed throughout the analyzed top 15 cm of soils, with no dependence on CH4 concentration or CO2 treatment. Conclusions Our investigations suggest that elevated CO2 exerts no or only minor effects on CH4 fluxes in the type of ecosystem we studied, at least as long as soil moisture differences are small or absent as was the case here. The autoradiographic analyses further indicate that the spatial niche of CH4 oxidation does not shift in response to CO2 enrichment or CH4 concentration, and that the same type of methanotrophs may oxidize CH4 from atmospheric and soil-internal sources. Copyright:

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Karbin, S., Guillet, C., Kammann, C. I., & Niklaus, P. A. (2015). Effects of long-term CO2 enrichment on soil- atmosphere CH4 fluxes and the spatial micro-distribution of methanotrophic bacteria. PLoS ONE, 10(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0131665

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