Temperature responses of individual soil organic matter components

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Abstract

[1] Temperature responses of soil organic matter (SOM) remain unclear partly due to its chemical and compositional heterogeneity. In this study, the decomposition of SOM from two grassland soils was investigated in a 1-year laboratory incubation at six different temperatures. SOM was separated into solvent extractable compounds, suberin- and cutin-derived compounds, and lignin-derived monomers by solvent extraction, base hydrolysis, and CuO oxidation, respectively. These SOM components have distinct chemical structures and stabilities and their decomposition patterns over the course of the experiment were fitted with a two-pool exponential decay model. The stability of SOM components was also assessed using geochemical parameters and kinetic parameters derived from model fitting. Compared with the solvent extractable compounds, a low percentage of lignin monomers partitioned into the labile SOM pool. Suberin- and cutin-derived compounds were poorly fitted by the decay model, and their recalcitrance was shown by the geochemical degradation parameter (ω − C16/∑C16), which was observed to stabilize during the incubation. The temperature sensitivity of decomposition, expressed as Q10, was derived from the relationship between temperature and SOM decay rates. SOM components exhibited varying temperature responses and the decomposition of lignin monomers exhibited higher Q10 values than the decomposition of solvent extractable compounds. Our study shows that Q10 values derived from soil respiration measurements may not be reliable indicators of temperature responses of individual SOM components.

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