Atmospheric warming and increased nitrogen deposition can lead to changes of microbial communities with possible consequences for biogeochemical processes. We used an enclosure facility in a freshwater marsh to assess the effects on microbes associated with decomposing plant litter under conditions of simulated climate warming and pulsed nitrogen supply. Standard batches of litter were placed in coarse-mesh and fine-mesh bags and submerged in a series of heated, nitrogen-enriched, and control enclosures. They were retrieved later and analyzed for a range of microbial parameters. Fingerprinting profiles obtained by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) indicated that simulated global warming induced a shift in bacterial community structure. In addition, warming reduced fungal biomass, whereas bacterial biomass was unaffected. The mesh size of the litter bags and sampling date also had an influence on bacterial community structure, with the apparent number of dominant genotypes increasing from spring to summer. Microbial respiration was unaffected by any treatment, and nitrogen enrichment had no clear effect on any of the microbial parameters considered. Overall, these results suggest that microbes associated with decomposing plant litter in nutrientrich freshwater marshes are resistant to extra nitrogen supplies but are likely to respond to temperature increases projected for this century.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2011, Vol 77, Issue 3, p. 803-809