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  1. Abstract

    Differentiating the contributions of photosynthesis and respiration to the global carbon cycle is critical for improving predictive climate models. Carbonic anhydrase (CA) activity in leaves is responsible for the largest biosphere-atmosphere trace gas fluxes of carbonyl sulfide (COS) and the oxygen-18 isotopologue of carbon dioxide (CO18O) that both reflect gross photosynthetic rates. However, CA activity also occurs in soils and will be a source of uncertainty in the use of COS and CO18O as carbon cycle tracers until process-based constraints are improved. In this study, we measured COS and CO18O exchange rates and estimated the corresponding CA activity in soils from a range of biomes and land use types. Soil CA activity was not uniform for COS and CO2, and patterns of divergence were related to microbial community composition and CA gene expression patterns. In some cases, the same microbial taxa and CA classes catalyzed both COS and CO2 reactions in soil, but in other cases the specificity towards the two substrates differed markedly. CA activity for COS was related to fungal taxa and β-D-CA expression, whereas CA activity for CO2 was related to algal and bacterial taxa and α-CA expression. This study integrates gas exchange measurements, enzyme activity models, and characterization of soil taxonomic and genetic diversity to build connections between CA activity and the soil microbiome. Importantly, our results identify kinetic parameters to represent soil CA activity during application of COS and CO18O as carbon cycle tracers.

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