Differential acquisition of amino acid and peptide enantiomers within the soil microbial community and its implications for carbon and nitrogen cycling in soil
l-isomeric amino acids and oligopeptides are thought to represent a key nitrogen (N) source for plants and soil microorganisms, bypassing the need to take up inorganic N, whilst self-cycling of d-enantiomers within peptidoglycan-containing bacteria may provide a further short circuit within the N cycle. Here we use stable isotope profiling (SIP) to identify the fate of organic N within soil microbial communities. We followed the incorporation of 13C-labelled d- or l-labelled amino acids/peptides into phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs). l-alanine and its peptides were taken up more rapidly than d-enantiomers by Gram-positive bacteria with 13C incorporation being predominantly into anteiso- and iso-fatty acids typically associated with Gram-positive bacteria. d-enantiomer uptake was found not to differ significantly between the microbial groups, providing little support for the view that soil bacteria may self-cycle d-forms of amino acids and peptides. There was no consistent association between peptide chain length and incorporation. The concentrations of l- and d-isomeric amino acids in soil solution were 866 nM and 72 nM, respectively. We conclude that Gram-positive bacteria appear to be the primary competitors for l-enantiomeric forms of amino acids and their peptides, but that both d- and l-enantiomers are available N and C sources for bacteria and fungi.
Authors: Broughton, R.C.I., Newsham, K.K., Hill, P.W., Stott, A., Jones, D.L.