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Urban soil microbial community and microbial-related carbon storage are severely limited by sealing

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>29/01/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Soils and Sediments
Issue number3
Volume21
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)1455-1465
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Purpose
Urbanisation causes changes in land use, from natural or rural to urban, leading to the sealing of soil and the replacement of vegetation by buildings, roads and pavements. The sealing process impacts soil properties and services and can lead to negative consequences for microbial attributes and processes in soil. At present, information about the microbial community following soil sealing is limited. As such, we investigated how changes in soil physical and chemical properties caused by sealing affect the soil microbial community and soil ecosystem services.

Material and methods
Soils were sampled beneath impervious pavements (sealed) and from adjacent pervious greenspace areas (unsealed). Soil properties (total C, total N, C:N ratio and water content) and microbial attributes (microbial biomass C, N-mineralisation and phospholipid fatty acids—PLFA) were measured and correlated.

Results and discussion
A reduction of total C, total N, and water content were observed in sealed soil, whilst the C:N ratio increased. Sealed soil also presented a reduction in microbial attributes, with low N-mineralisation revealing suppressed microbial activity. PLFA data presented positive correlations with total C, total N and water content, suggesting that the microbial community may be reduced in sealed soil as a response to soil properties. Furthermore, fungal:bacterial and gram-positive:gram-negative bacterial ratios were lower in sealed soil indicating degradation in C sequestration and a consequential effect on C storage.

Conclusions
Sealing causes notable changes in soil properties leading to subsequent impacts upon the microbial community and the reduction of microbial activity and soil C storage potential.