Soil organic nitrogen mineralization across a global latitudinal gradient
Understanding and accurately predicting the fate of carbon and nitrogen in the terrestrial biosphere remains a central goal in ecosystem science. Amino acids represent a key pool of C and N in soil, and their availability to plants and microorganisms has been implicated as a major driver in regulating ecosystem functioning. Because of potential differences in biological diversity and litter quality, it has been thought that soils from different latitudes and plant communities may possess intrinsically different capacities to perform key functions such as the turnover of amino acids. In this study we measured the soil solution concentration and microbial mineralization of amino acids in soils collected from 40 latitudinal points from the Arctic through to Antarctica. Our results showed that soil solution amino acid concentrations were relatively similar between sites and not strongly related to latitude. In addition, when constraints of temperature and moisture were removed, we demonstrate that soils worldwide possess a similar innate capacity to rapidly mineralize amino acids. Similarly, we show that the internal partitioning of amino acid-C into catabolic and anabolic processes is conservative in microbial communities and independent of global position. This supports the view that the conversion of high molecular weight ( MW) organic matter to low MW compounds is the rate limiting step in organic matter breakdown in most ecosystems.