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  1. Abstract Background

    Anthropogenic activities have increased the inputs of atmospheric reactive nitrogen (N) into terrestrial ecosystems, affecting soil carbon stability and microbial communities. Previous studies have primarily examined the effects of nitrogen deposition on microbial taxonomy, enzymatic activities, and functional processes. Here, we examined various functional traits of soil microbial communities and how these traits are interrelated in a Mediterranean-type grassland administrated with 14 years of 7 g m−2year−1of N amendment, based on estimated atmospheric N deposition in areas within California, USA, by the end of the twenty-first century.

    Results

    Soil microbial communities were significantly altered by N deposition. Consistent with higher aboveground plant biomass and litter, fast-growing bacteria, assessed by abundance-weighted average rRNA operon copy number, were favored in N deposited soils. The relative abundances of genes associated with labile carbon (C) degradation (e.g.,amyAandcda) were also increased. In contrast, the relative abundances of functional genes associated with the degradation of more recalcitrant C (e.g.,mannanaseandchitinase) were either unchanged or decreased. Compared with the ambient control, N deposition significantly reduced network complexity, such as average degree and connectedness. The network for N deposited samples contained only genes associated with C degradation, suggesting that C degradation genes became more intensely connected under N deposition.

    more »Conclusions

    We propose a conceptual model to summarize the mechanisms of how changes in above- and belowground ecosystems by long-term N deposition collectively lead to more soil C accumulation.

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  2. The disappearance of mass-independent sulfur isotope fractionation (S-MIF) within the c. 2.3-billion-year-old (Ga) Rooihoogte Formation has been heralded as a chemostratigraphic marker of permanent atmospheric oxygenation. Reports of younger S-MIF, however, question this narrative, leaving significant uncertainties surrounding the timing, tempo, and trajectory of Earth’s oxygenation. Leveraging a new bulk quadruple S-isotope record, we return to the South African Transvaal Basin in search of support for supposed oscillations in atmospheric oxygen beyond 2.3 Ga. Here, as expected, within the Rooihoogte Formation, our data capture a collapse in Δ 3× S values and a shift from Archean-like Δ 36 S/Δ 33 S slopes to their mass-dependent counterparts. Importantly, the interrogation of a Δ 33 S-exotic grain reveals extreme spatial variability, whereby atypically large Δ 33 S values are separated from more typical Paleoproterozoic values by a subtle grain-housed siderophile-enriched band. This isotopic juxtaposition signals the coexistence of two sulfur pools that were able to escape diagenetic homogenization. These large Δ 33 S values require an active photochemical sulfur source, fingerprinting atmospheric S-MIF production after its documented cessation elsewhere at ∼2.4 Ga. By contrast, the Δ 33 S monotony observed in overlying Timeball Hill Formation, with muted Δ 33 S values (<0.3‰)more »and predominantly mass-dependent Δ 36 S/Δ 33 S systematics, remains in stark contrast to recent reports of pronounced S-MIF within proximal formational equivalents. If reflective of atmospheric processes, these observed kilometer-scale discrepancies disclose heterogenous S-MIF delivery to the Transvaal Basin and/or poorly resolved fleeting returns to S-MIF production. Rigorous bulk and grain-scale analytical campaigns remain paramount to refine our understanding of Earth’s oxygenation and substantiate claims of post-2.3 Ga oscillations in atmospheric oxygen.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 29, 2023