Development of microbial-enzyme-mediated decomposition model parameters through steady-state and dynamic analyses


  • Corresponding Editor: R. L. Sinsabaugh.


We developed a microbial-enzyme-mediated decomposition (MEND) model, based on the Michaelis-Menten kinetics, that describes the dynamics of physically defined pools of soil organic matter (SOC). These include particulate, mineral-associated, dissolved organic matter (POC, MOC, and DOC, respectively), microbial biomass, and associated exoenzymes. The ranges and/or distributions of parameters were determined by both analytical steady-state and dynamic analyses with SOC data from the literature. We used an improved multi-objective parameter sensitivity analysis (MOPSA) to identify the most important parameters for the full model: maintenance of microbial biomass, turnover and synthesis of enzymes, and carbon use efficiency (CUE). The model predicted that an increase of 2°C (baseline temperature 12°C) caused the pools of POC-cellulose, MOC, and total SOC to increase with dynamic CUE and decrease with constant CUE, as indicated by the 50% confidence intervals. Regardless of dynamic or constant CUE, the changes in pool size of POC, MOC, and total SOC varied from −8% to 8% under +2°C. The scenario analysis using a single parameter set indicates that higher temperature with dynamic CUE might result in greater net increases in both POC-cellulose and MOC pools. Different dynamics of various SOC pools reflected the catalytic functions of specific enzymes targeting specific substrates and the interactions between microbes, enzymes, and SOC. With the feasible parameter values estimated in this study, models incorporating fundamental principles of microbial-enzyme dynamics can lead to simulation results qualitatively different from traditional models with fast/slow/passive pools.