Beyond microbial carbon use efficiency

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: This is version 1 of this Preprint.

Add a Comment

You must log in to post a comment.


Comment #144 Ke-Qing Xiao @ 2024-02-06 08:53

This preprint has been accepted for publication at National Science Review DOI: 10.1093/nsr/nwae059


Download Preprint


Ke-Qing Xiao, Chao Liang, Zimeng Wang, Jingjing Peng, Yao Zhao, Ming Zhang, Mingyu Zhao, Yong-Guan Zhu, Caroline Peacock


Microbial carbon use efficiency (CUE) is defined as the proportion of microbial biomass growth C versus substrate C uptake, and thus provides a useful measure of microbially driven accumulation and loss of soil organic carbon (SOC) 1. In a recent study published in Nature 2, the authors use a data-driven machine learning approach to conclude that CUE promotes global SOC storage based on a positive correlation between CUE and SOC content and that based on sensitivity analysis CUE is at least four times as important as six other evaluated factors, namely plant C inputs, C input allocation, non-microbial C transfer, substrate decomposability, environmental modifications and vertical transport. We agree with the authors that there is no consensus in the scientific community about the relationship between CUE and SOC, and that increasingly used big data methods offer an opportunity to synthesize and potentially generate new insights from multiple data aggregation. We argue however, that their study excludes important data sets and lacks mechanistic consideration of the complexities of SOC formation, such that their conclusions need to be clarified.



Biogeochemistry, Earth Sciences, Environmental Microbiology and Microbial Ecology Life Sciences, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Soil Science


Stablization, Soil organic carbon, Microbial carbon use efficiency, big data


Published: 2023-08-16 17:24


CC-By Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

Additional Metadata

Conflict of interest statement:
The authors declare no competing interests.

Data Availability (Reason not available):
All data are public.