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Rapid nitrogen fixation by canopy microbiome in tropical forest determined by both phosphorus and molybdenum.

Authors
  • Stanton, Daniel E1, 2
  • Batterman, Sarah A1, 3, 4, 5
  • Von Fischer, Joseph C6
  • Hedin, Lars O1
  • 1 Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, 08544, USA. , (Jersey)
  • 2 Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Saint Paul, Minnesota, 55108, USA.
  • 3 School of Geography and Priestley International Centre for Climate, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 95T, United Kingdom. , (United Kingdom)
  • 4 Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Ancon, Panama. , (Panama)
  • 5 Cary Institute of Ecosystem Services, Millbrook, New York, 12545, USA.
  • 6 Department of Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, 80523, USA.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Ecology
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2019
Volume
100
Issue
9
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1002/ecy.2795
PMID: 31301692
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Biological nitrogen fixation is critical for the nitrogen cycle of tropical forests, yet we know little about the factors that control the microbial nitrogen fixers that colonize the microbiome of leaves and branches that make up a forest canopy. Forest canopies are especially prone to nutrient limitation because they are (1) disconnected from soil nutrient pools and (2) often subject to leaching. Earlier studies have suggested a role of phosphorus and molybdenum in controlling biological N-fixation rates, but experimental confirmation has hitherto been unavailable. Here we present the results of a manipulation of canopy nutrient availability. Our findings demonstrate a primary role of phosphorus in constraining overall N fixation by canopy cyanobacteria, but also a secondary role of molybdenum in determining per-cell fixation rates. A conservative evaluation suggests that canopy fixation can contribute to significant N fluxes at the ecosystem level, especially as bursts following atmospheric inputs of nutrient-rich dust. © 2019 by the Ecological Society of America.

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