Here, we present evidence that ca. 20 years of experimental N deposition altered the composition of lignin-decaying class II peroxidases expressed by forest floor fungi, a response which has occurred concurrently with reductions in plant litter decomposition and a rapid accumulation of soil organic matter. This finding suggests that anthropogenic N deposition has induced changes in the biological mediation of lignin decay, the rate limiting step in plant litter decomposition. Thus, an altered composition of transcripts for a critical gene that is associated with terrestrial C cycling may explain the increased soil C storage under long-term increases in anthropogenic N deposition.IMPORTANCE Fungal class II peroxidases are enzymes that mediate the rate-limiting step in the decomposition of plant material, which involves the oxidation of lignin and other polyphenols. In field experiments, anthropogenic N deposition has increased soil C storage in forests, a result which could potentially arise from anthropogenic N-induced changes in the composition of class II peroxidases expressed by the fungal community. In this study, we have gained unique insight into how anthropogenic N deposition, a widespread agent of global change, affects the expression of a functional gene encoding an enzyme that plays a critical role in a biologically mediated ecosystem process. Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.
Journal: Applied and environmental microbiology