Iron-mediated organic matter decomposition in humid soils can counteract protection

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2020-05-07
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Chen, Chunmei
Coward, Elizabeth
Thompson, Aaron
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Hall, Steven
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Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology

The Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology seeks to teach the studies of ecology (organisms and their environment), evolutionary theory (the origin and interrelationships of organisms), and organismal biology (the structure, function, and biodiversity of organisms). In doing this, it offers several majors which are codirected with other departments, including biology, genetics, and environmental sciences.

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The Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology was founded in 2003 as a merger of the Department of Botany, the Department of Microbiology, and the Department of Zoology and Genetics.

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2003–present

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Soil organic matter (SOM) is correlated with reactive iron (Fe) in humid soils, but Fe also promotes SOM decomposition when oxygen (O2) becomes limited. Here we quantify Fe-mediated OM protection vs. decomposition by adding 13C dissolved organic matter (DOM) and 57FeII to soil slurries incubated under static or fluctuating O2. We find Fe uniformly protects OM only under static oxic conditions, and only when Fe and DOM are added together: de novo reactive FeIII phases suppress DOM and SOM mineralization by 35 and 47%, respectively. Conversely, adding 57FeII alone increases SOM mineralization by 8% following oxidation to 57FeIII. Under O2 limitation, de novo reactive 57FeIII phases are preferentially reduced, increasing anaerobic mineralization of DOM and SOM by 74% and 32‒41%, respectively. Periodic O2 limitation is common in humid soils, so Fe does not intrinsically protect OM; rather reactive Fe phases require their own physiochemical protection to contribute to OM persistence.

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This article is published as Chen, C., Hall, S.J., Coward, E. et al. Iron-mediated organic matter decomposition in humid soils can counteract protection. Nat Commun 11, 2255 (2020). doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-16071-5.

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Wed Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2020
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