26 Apr 2022
26 Apr 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Dispersal of bacteria and stimulation of permafrost decomposition by Collembola

Sylvain Monteux1,2, Janine Mariën3, and Eveline Josiane Krab1 Sylvain Monteux et al.
  • 1Department of Soil and Environment, Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet SLU, Uppsala, 750 07, Sweden
  • 2Department of Environmental Science, Stockholms Universitet, Stockholm, 106 91, Sweden
  • 3Department of Animal Ecology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, 1081 HV, The Netherlands

Abstract. Contrary to most soils, permafrost soils have the atypical feature of being almost entirely deprived of soil fauna. Abiotic constraints on the fate of permafrost carbon after thawing are increasingly understood, but biotic constraints remain scarcely investigated. Incubation studies, essential to estimate effects of permafrost thaw on carbon cycling, typically measure the consequences of permafrost thaw in isolation from the topsoil, and thus do not account for the effects of altered biotic interactions because of e.g. colonization by soil fauna. Microarthropods facilitate the dispersal of microorganisms in soil, both on their cuticle (ectozoochory) and through their digestive tract (endozoochory), which may be particularly important in permafrost soils, considering that microbial community composition can strongly constrain permafrost biogeochemical processes.

Here we tested how a model species of microarthropod (the Collembola Folsomia candida) affected aerobic CO2 production of permafrost soil over a 25 days incubation. By using collembola stock cultures grown on permafrost soil or on an arctic topsoil, we aimed to assess the potential for endo- and ectozoochory of soil bacteria, while cultures grown on gypsum and sprayed with soil suspensions would allow to observe only ectozoochory.

The presence of collembola or the different treatments imposed to the collembola microbiome (growth substrate, spraying) did not alter bacterial community composition as a whole (relative abundances, weighted UniFrac). However, when Collembola were present (independent of their treatment), a number of introduced bacteria were found (presence-absence, unweighted UniFrac), resulting in increased species richness.

CO2 production was increased by 25.85 % in the presence of collembola, about half of which could be attributed to collembola respiration. We argue that the remaining 13.22 % (95 % CI:3.2–23.25 %) can be considered a priming effect of the presence of collembola, i.e. a stimulation of permafrost CO2 production in the presence of active microarthropod decomposers. Overall, our findings underline the importance of biotic interactions in permafrost biogeochemical processes, and the need to explore the additive or interactive effects of other soil food web groups of which permafrost soils are deprived.

Sylvain Monteux et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on bg-2022-98', Anonymous Referee #1, 20 May 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Sylvain Monteux, 03 Jun 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on bg-2022-98', Anonymous Referee #1, 20 May 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Sylvain Monteux, 03 Jun 2022
  • RC3: 'Comment on bg-2022-98', Anonymous Referee #2, 28 Jun 2022

Sylvain Monteux et al.

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Data supporting "Dispersal of bacteria and stimulation of permafrost decomposition by Collembola" Sylvain Monteux, Janine Mariën, Eveline J. Krab

Sylvain Monteux et al.


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Short summary
Quantifying the feedback from the decomposition of thawing permafrost soils is crucial to establish adequate climate warming mitigation scenarios. Past efforts have focused on abiotic (chemistry, moisture, temperature) and to some extent microbial drivers of decomposition, but not biotic drivers such as soil fauna. We added soil fauna (collembola Folsomia candida) to permafrost, which did not affect bacterial communities, but increased CO2 production (+12 %) which we suggest is due to priming.