New paper in Science Advances: Decoupling of microbial carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycling in response to extreme temperature events


Predicted changes in the intensity and frequency of climate extremes urge a better mechanistic understanding of the stress response of microbially-mediated carbon and nutrient cycling processes. This study is the first comprehensive study of the resistance and resilience of microbial C, N, and P cycling processes in decomposing plant litter to  severe temperature disturbances. Disturbances led temporarily to a more rapid cycling of C and N but caused a down-regulation of P cycling. In contrast to the fast recovery of  C and N processes, we found a slow recovery of P mineralization rates. The functional and structural responses to the two distinct temperature disturbances were markedly similar, suggesting that direct negative physical effects and costs associated with the stress response were comparable. This study provides novel insights into the mechanisms of microbial functional stress responses and illustrates the need for a closer integration of microbial C-N-P interactions into climate extremes research.