Jie Li

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Soil property and litter quality are two key factors that control soil organic matter decomposition. Under climate change, it remains unclear how the changes of soil microbial community and litter quality affect soil organic carbon decomposition, although significant changes of these two factors have been reported intensively. This limits our ability to model the dynamics of terrestrial soil carbon in a changing climate. Using a long-term Free Air CO2 Enrichment facility equipped with warming, we investigated the effect of soil property and litter quality change on the decomposition rate of soil organic matter. Results showed that significant change of litter quality was observed under elevated CO2 and warming. Elevated CO2 decreased the concentration of N of rice and wheat straw, while warming decreased the concentration of N and K in wheat straw. However, these changes in plant litter quality did not lead to a shift in soil organic matter decomposition. The legacy effect of long-term elevated CO2 and warming on soil properties dominated the decomposition rate of soil organic matter. Elevated CO2 suppressed soil organic matter decomposition mainly by increasing phosphorous availability and lowering soil C/N, fungi/bacteria ratio, and N-acetyl-glucosaminidase activity; while warming or elevated CO2 plus warming had no effect on soil organic matter decomposition. Our results demonstrated that the change of soil properties other than litter quality control the decomposition of soil organic carbon; and soil property change should be taken into consideration in model developing when predicting terrestrial soil carbon dynamics under elevated atmospheric CO2 and warming.