Plant material and its biochar differ in their effects on nitrogen mineralization and nitrification in a subtropical forest soil Academic Article uri icon


  • Natural wildfires have a great effect on soil N transformation in subtropical forest. The pyrogenic organic matter (PyOM) in forest soils is mainly derived from the plant material burnt during forest fires, which affects soil N composition, N mineralization and nitrification. This study examined the effects of typical fresh plant material (leaves and twigs of Castanopsis sclerophylla, representing litter) and its biochar (representing PyOM) on N mineralization and nitrification in a subtropical forest soil. The soils were incubated with the plant material (PM), its biochar (BC) and their combinations for 84┬ádays. Both PM and BC considerably increased soil pH and dissolved organic C, whereas PM decreased NO3--N and dissolved organic N. The additions of PM alone, and its combinations with BC resulted in net N immobilization. The rates of net N mineralization rapidly increased in first 14┬ádays and then became stable following the addition of PM to soil. Moreover, the additions of PM and BC increased the abundances of archaeal amoA and bacterial amoA, especially with PM. The abundance of bacterial amoA correlated positively with soil pH and dissolved organic C, while archaeal amoA showed the opposite. Biochar affected soil properties and N transformation more significantly in the presence of PM, highlighting the need for further research on the interactions of plant litter and its biochar.

publication date

  • 2020