Isotope labelling provides exciting insights into the role of trehalose in Birch effect

Paper published today in Soil Biology & Biochemistry that used a 13C labelling technique to investigate the source(s) of C that fuel the pulse of respired CO2 and growth in microbial biomass when a dry soil is re-wet. The main findings were:

  • Trehalose was the most 13C-enriched pool in dry soil, indicating upregulation of synthesis
  • Rewetting dramatically increased δ13C of soil respiration
  • In the 5 hours after rewetting trehalose underpinned 7-16% of respiration
  • Trehalose-C did not underpin growth in microbial biomass after rewetting