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      Stoichiometric imbalances between terrestrial decomposer communities and their resources: mechanisms and implications of microbial adaptations to their resources


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          Terrestrial microbial decomposer communities thrive on a wide range of organic matter types that rarely ever meet their elemental demands. In this review we synthesize the current state-of-the-art of microbial adaptations to resource stoichiometry, in order to gain a deeper understanding of the interactions between heterotrophic microbial communities and their chemical environment. The stoichiometric imbalance between microbial communities and their organic substrates generally decreases from wood to leaf litter and further to topsoil and subsoil organic matter. Microbial communities can respond to these imbalances in four ways: first, they adapt their biomass composition toward their resource in a non-homeostatic behavior. Such changes are, however, only moderate, and occur mainly because of changes in microbial community structure and less so due to cellular storage of elements in excess. Second, microbial communities can mobilize resources that meet their elemental demand by producing specific extracellular enzymes, which, in turn, is restricted by the C and N requirement for enzyme production itself. Third, microbes can regulate their element use efficiencies (ratio of element invested in growth over total element uptake), such that they release elements in excess depending on their demand (e.g., respiration and N mineralization). Fourth, diazotrophic bacteria and saprotrophic fungi may trigger the input of external N and P to decomposer communities. Theoretical considerations show that adjustments in element use efficiencies may be the most important mechanism by which microbes regulate their biomass stoichiometry. This review summarizes different views on how microbes cope with imbalanced supply of C, N and P, thereby providing a framework for integrating and linking microbial adaptation to resource imbalances to ecosystem scale fluxes across scales and ecosystems.

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          Most cited references86

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          Ecology of Coarse Woody Debris in Temperate Ecosystems

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            C:N:P stoichiometry in soil: is there a “Redfield ratio” for the microbial biomass?

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              Soil enzymes in a changing environment: Current knowledge and future directions


                Author and article information

                Front Microbiol
                Front Microbiol
                Front. Microbiol.
                Frontiers in Microbiology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                03 February 2014
                : 5
                : 22
                [1] 1Terrestrial Ecosystem Research, Department of Microbiology and Ecosystem Science, University of Vienna Vienna, Austria
                [2] 2Institute of Soil Research, Department of Forest and Soil Sciences, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna Vienna, Austria
                Author notes

                Edited by: Johannes Rousk, Lund University, Sweden

                Reviewed by: Feike Auke Dijkstra, The University of Sydney, Australia; Mark Gessner, Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Germany

                *Correspondence: Wolfgang Wanek, Terrestrial Ecosystem Research, Department of Microbiology and Ecosystem Science, University of Vienna, Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Vienna, Austria e-mail: wolfgang.wanek@ 123456univie.ac.at

                This article was submitted to TerrestrialMicrobiology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.

                Copyright © 2014 Mooshammer, Wanek, Zechmeister-Boltenstern and Richter.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                : 03 June 2013
                : 14 January 2014
                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 2, Equations: 0, References: 93, Pages: 10, Words: 0
                Review Article

                Microbiology & Virology
                extracellular enzymes,elemental imbalance,organic matter decomposition,carbon/nutrient use efficiency,soil microbial communities,ecological stoichiometry,homeostasis,mineralization


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