Susceptibility of new soil organic carbon to mineralization during dry-wet cycling in soils from contrasting ends of a precipitation gradient

Roland C. Wilhelm, Laurel Lynch, Tara M. Webster, Steffen Schweizer, Thiago M. Inagaki, Malak M. Tfaily, Ravi Kukkadapu, Carmen Hoeschen, Daniel H. Buckley, Johannes Lehmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

The persistence of soil organic carbon (SOC) is influenced by soil physicochemical properties, organic matter quality, and climatic conditions that govern its vulnerability to microbial activity. We compared the susceptibility of newly formed SOC to mineralization in two soils (Andosols) that developed under contrasting precipitation regimes. Soil from the high rainfall region (‘highrain’) had higher SOC and lower iron concentrations than soils exposed to less rainfall (‘lowrain’). We amended soils with 13C-labeled carbohydrates and measured the amount of substrate-derived SO13C mineralized when exposed to dry-wet cycling following months-long incubations. We hypothesized that susceptibility would differ due to iron content and mineralogy, initial SOC, substrate solubility (cellulose versus glucose amendment), and microbial substrate use efficiency (SUE). We found that SO13C was less susceptible to dry-wet cycling when more 13C was assimilated into microbial biomass and co-localized with mineral surfaces than when co-localized with existing organo-mineral surfaces, according to microscale NanoSIMS imaging. Considerably less SO13C was susceptible to mineralization in the ferrihydrite-rich (low SOC) lowrain soil than the leached (high SOC) highrain soil when C was added as either glucose (7.3-fold less C mineralized) or cellulose (15.2-fold less). The SUE of glucose was comparable to cellulose in lowrain soil where SO13C was less water soluble and coprecipitated with ferrihydrite, and used half as efficiently as cellulose in highrain soil. Our results show that the susceptibility of newly formed SOC to mineralization is modified by the effects of bioavailability on microbial metabolism and the availability of mineral surfaces for forming new organo-mineral complexes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108681
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Volume169
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Keywords

  • Birch effect
  • Carbon susceptibility
  • Carbon use efficiency
  • Iron mineralogy
  • NanoSIMS
  • Precipitation gradient

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Soil Science

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