Diverse soil carbon dynamics expressed at the molecular level

van der Voort, T.S., Zell, C.I., Hagedorn, F., Feng, X., McIntyre, C.P. , Haghipour, N., Graf Pannatier, E. and Eglinton, T.I. (2017) Diverse soil carbon dynamics expressed at the molecular level. Geophysical Research Letters, 44(23), pp. 11840-11850. (doi: 10.1002/2017GL076188)

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The stability and potential vulnerability of soil organic matter (SOM) to global change remains incompletely understood due to the complex processes involved in its formation and turnover. Here we combine compound-specific radiocarbon analysis with fraction-specific and bulk-level radiocarbon measurements in order to further elucidate controls on SOM dynamics in a temperate and sub-alpine forested ecosystem. Radiocarbon contents of individual organic compounds isolated from the same soil interval generally exhibit greater variation than those among corresponding operationally-defined fractions. Notably, markedly older ages of long-chain plant leaf wax lipids (n-alkanoic acids) imply that they reflect a highly stable carbon pool. Furthermore, marked 14C variations among shorter- and longer-chain n-alkanoic acid homologues suggest that they track different SOM pools. Extremes in SOM dynamics thus manifest themselves within a single compound class. This exploratory study highlights the potential of compound-specific radiocarbon analysis for understanding SOM dynamics in ecosystems potentially vulnerable to global change.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mcintyre, Dr Cameron
Authors: van der Voort, T.S., Zell, C.I., Hagedorn, F., Feng, X., McIntyre, C.P., Haghipour, N., Graf Pannatier, E., and Eglinton, T.I.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Geophysical Research Letters
ISSN (Online):1944-8007
Published Online:15 November 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Authors
First Published:First published in Geophysical Research Letters 44(23):11840-11850
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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