Microbial functional diversity is significantly associated with both nutrient cycling and organic matter decomposition. However, how different forests as well as the soil parent materials influence the soil microbial carbon metabolism remains poorly understood. In this study, a natural secondary forest and a Pinus yunnanensis
plantation, with similar climatic conditions under contrasting parent materials (clasolite in the non-karst areas and limestone in the karst areas) in Yunnan Province, China, were investigated. The soil microbial carbon metabolism diversity was assessed by the Biolog®
ECO-plates. During the dry season, the soil microbial communities used carbon substrate in secondary forest and Pinus yunnanensis
plantation, showing no significant difference, both in non-karst and karst areas. The microbial communities in the non-karst area were more efficient in utilizing carbon substrates than those in the karst area with the same vegetation types, resulting in the higher accumulation of organic carbon in the karst area. The six categories of most frequently utilized carbon substrates were carbohydrates, carboxylic acids, and amino acids in both the non-karst and the karst areas. The soil basal respiration of the secondary forest was higher than that of the Pinus yunnanensis
plantation, both in the non-karst and the karst areas. In addition, the driving factors of the soil microbial community functional diversity in the non-karst and karst areas are different. Our findings suggest that soil microbial functional diversity is governed by vegetation types as well as by soil properties in subtropical forests. Moreover, calcareous soil holds a higher proportion of recalcitrant organic carbon, which is difficult to utilize by microorganisms.
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