Microbial central carbon metabolism in a tidal freshwater marsh and an upland mixed conifer soil under oxic and anoxic conditions

Ayla Martinez, Paul Dijkstra, Patrick Megonigal, Bruce A. Hungate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The central carbon (C) metabolic network is responsible for most of the production of energy and biosynthesis in microorganisms and is therefore key to a mechanistic understanding of microbial life in soil communities. Many upland soil communities have shown a relatively high C flux through the pentose phosphate (PP) or the Entner-Doudoroff (ED) pathway, thought to be related to oxidative damage control. We tested the hypothesis that the metabolic organization of the central C metabolic network differed between two ecosystems, an anoxic marsh soil and oxic upland soil, and would be affected by altering oxygen concentrations. We expected there to be high PP/ED pathway activity under high oxygen concentrations and in oxic soils and low PP/ED activity in reduced oxygen concentrations and in marsh soil. Although we found high PP/ED activity in the upland soil and low activity in the marsh soil, lowering the oxygen concentration for the upland soil did not reduce the relative PP/ED pathway activity as hypothesized, nor did increasing the oxygen concentration in the marsh soil increase the PP/ED pathway activity. We speculate that the high PP/ED activity in the upland soil, even when exposed to low oxygen concentrations, was related to a high demand for NADPH for biosynthesis, thus reflecting higher microbial growth rates in C-rich soils than in C-poor sediments. Further studies are needed to explain the observed metabolic diversity among soil ecosystems and determine whether it is related to microbial growth rates.IMPORTANCEWe observed that the organization of the central carbon (C) metabolic processes differed between oxic and anoxic soil. However, we also found that the pentose phosphate pathway/Entner-Doudoroff (PP/ED) pathway activity remained high after reducing the oxygen concentration for the upland soil and did not increase in response to an increase in oxygen concentration in the marsh soil. These observations contradicted the hypothesis that oxidative stress is a main driver for high PP/ED activity in soil communities. We suggest that the high PP/ED activity and NADPH production reflect higher anabolic activities and growth rates in the upland soil compared to the anaerobic marsh soil. A greater understanding of the molecular and biochemical processes in soil communities is needed to develop a mechanistic perspective on microbial activities and their relationship to soil C and nutrient cycling. Such an increased mechanistic perspective is ecologically relevant, given that the central carbon metabolic network is intimately tied to the energy metabolism of microbes, the efficiency of new microbial biomass production, and soil organic matter formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e0072424
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Volume90
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 18 2024

Keywords

  • carbon use efficiency
  • central carbon metabolism
  • forest soil
  • marsh soil
  • microbial energy metabolism
  • nitrosative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology

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