The stable carbon and hydrogen isotopic composition of microbial fatty acids traces microbial metabolism in soils and peats

Yiming Zhang, B D A Naafs, Xianyu Huang*, Meiling Zhao, Linghan Zeng, Jerome Blewett, Rich D Pancost, Shucheng Xie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Abstract

The compound-specific stable carbon (δ13C) and hydrogen (δ2H) isotopic compositions of microbial fatty acids have been widely used to trace microbial metabolism across a range of mesophilic environments. However, few studies have combined the δ13C and δ2H values of microbial fatty acids. So far none have determined the δ2H of microbial phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs) in soils or peats, even though these stable isotope combinations could provide new insights into soil microbial metabolism. Here, we measured the δ13C and δ2H values of microbial PLFAs in top soils from peatlands, meadows, and woodlands in the Dajiuhu basin, central China. We observed a significant (p < 0.05) positive correlation between the δ13C and δ2H of microbial PLFAs across the three habitats studied here, indicating that central metabolic pathways affect both carbon and hydrogen isotopic compositions of microbial PLFAs. Moreover, our stable isotope data consistently indicate a relatively conservative metabolic state, which is dominated by expected heterotrophic metabolism. The exception to these observations is PLFAs associated with methanotrophs, as these appear to have decoupled carbon and hydrogen isotopes, providing an additional tool for tracing methanotrophic signals. Our results suggest that the carbon and hydrogen dual isotopic composition of microbial PLFAs can not only provide cross-validation for microbial metabolism in natural environments, but as a combined tool can also provide new insights into the perturbation of soil microbial community metabolism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-100
Number of pages16
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Volume365
Early online date11 Dec 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (U20A2094, 91951208), the 111 project from the Ministry of Education of China (BP0820004), and the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2022M722937). Dr. Ruicheng Wang, Bingyan Zhao, Yang Yang, Xiaofang Yu, Yuhang Wang, Chaoyang Yan, Xin Yang, Ting Yang, and Fanfan Yang are thanked for their help in the field and the laboratory analysis. B.D.A.N. acknowledges funding through a Royal Society Tata University Research Fellowship and R.D.P acknowledges funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under the UK government's Horizon Europe funding guarantee [CERES EP/X023214/1]. We especially thank the reviewers, Alex Sessions, Jamie McFarlin, and two anonymous reviewers, whose constructive comments substantially improved this manuscript.

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China ( U20A2094 , 91951208 ), the 111 project from the Ministry of Education of China ( BP0820004 ), and the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation ( 2022M722937 ). Dr. Ruicheng Wang, Bingyan Zhao, Yang Yang, Xiaofang Yu, Yuhang Wang, Chaoyang Yan, Xin Yang, Ting Yang, and Fanfan Yang are thanked for their help in the field and the laboratory analysis. B.D.A.N. acknowledges funding through a Royal Society Tata University Research Fellowship and R.D.P acknowledges funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under the UK government’s Horizon Europe funding guarantee [CERES EP/X023214/1]. We especially thank the reviewers, Alex Sessions, Jamie McFarlin, and two anonymous reviewers, whose constructive comments substantially improved this manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd

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