Articles | Volume 13, issue 15
Research article
11 Aug 2016
Research article |  | 11 Aug 2016

Fate of rice shoot and root residues, rhizodeposits, and microbe-assimilated carbon in paddy soil – Part 1: Decomposition and priming effect

Zhenke Zhu, Guanjun Zeng, Tida Ge, Yajun Hu, Chengli Tong, Olga Shibistova, Xinhua He, Juan Wang, Georg Guggenberger, and Jinshui Wu

Abstract. The input of recently photosynthesized C has significant implications on soil organic C sequestration, and in paddy soils, both plants and soil microbes contribute to the overall C input. In the present study, we investigated the fate and priming effect of organic C from different sources by conducting a 300-day incubation study with four different 13C-labelled substrates: rice shoots (shoot-C), rice roots (root-C), rice rhizodeposits (rhizo-C), and microbe-assimilated C (micro-C). The efflux of both 13CO2 and 13CH4 indicated that the mineralization of C in shoot-C-, root-C-, rhizo-C-, and micro-C-treated soils rapidly increased at the beginning of the incubation and decreased gradually afterwards. The highest cumulative C mineralization was observed in root-C-treated soil (45.4 %), followed by shoot-C- (31.9 %), rhizo-C- (7.90 %), and micro-C-treated (7.70 %) soils, which corresponded with mean residence times of 39.5, 50.3, 66.2, and 195 days, respectively. Shoot and root addition increased C emission from native soil organic carbon (SOC), up to 11.4 and 2.3 times higher than that of the control soil by day 20, and decreased thereafter. Throughout the incubation period, the priming effect of shoot-C on CO2 and CH4 emission was strongly positive; however, root-C did not exhibit a significant positive priming effect. Although the total C contents of rhizo-C- (1.89 %) and micro-C-treated soils (1.90 %) were higher than those of untreated soil (1.81 %), no significant differences in cumulative C emissions were observed. Given that about 0.3 and 0.1 % of the cumulative C emission were derived from labelled rhizo-C and micro-C, we concluded that the soil organic C-derived emissions were lower in rhizo-C- and micro-C-treated soils than in untreated soil. This indicates that rhizodeposits and microbe-assimilated C could be used to reduce the mineralization of native SOC and to effectively improve soil C sequestration. The contrasting behaviour of the different photosynthesized C substrates suggests that recycling rice roots in paddies is more beneficial than recycling shoots and demonstrates the importance of increasing rhizodeposits and microbe-assimilated C in paddy soils via nutrient management.

Short summary
The main contribution of our study is our finding that rhizodeposits and microbe-assimilated carbon contribute significantly to the sequestration of carbon substrates in rice paddy soils. This contribution is theoretically and practically relevant because few studies have investigated the effects of different carbon substrates on the mineralization of native soil organic carbon and our findings have immediate applications for improving the fertility of paddy soils and mitigating global warming.
Final-revised paper