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Quantification and molecular characterization of organo-mineral associations as influenced by redox oscillations

Quantification and molecular characterization of organo-mineral associations as influenced by redox oscillations

Science of the Total Environment 2019: 135454

Organo-mineral association is one of the most important stabilization mechanisms of soil organic matter. However, few studies have been conducted to assess the retention, transformation, and transportation of colloids (1-1000 nm) and associated organic carbon (OC) in soil. Given the particularly significant role that wetland soils play in carbon storage and cycling, we quantified the dynamics of organo-mineral association within colloidal size range by conducting three consecutive 35-day redox (reduction-oxidation) oscillation experiments using a wetland soil. Molecular compositions of natural nanoparticle (NNP, 2.3-100 nm), fine colloid (100-450 nm), and particulate (450-1000 nm) fractions were measured using isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). Results showed that NNP and fine colloids constituted up to 8.94 ± 0.50% and 22.19 ± 7.52% of bulk C concentration (2.3-1000 nm), respectively; indicating substantial contributions of these two fractions to the operationally defined "dissolved" (<450 nm) fraction. There was significant enrichment in heavier δ13C isotopes (p < 0.001) with size: NNP (-29.64 ± 0.32‰) < fine colloid (-28.81 ± 0.31‰) < particulate (-28.34 ± 0.25‰) fractions. NNP had the highest percentages of carbonyl/carboxyl C (C=O); while fine colloid and particulate fractions contained more reduced aromatic or aliphatic C (C-C, C=C, C-H). OC became more enriched (‰) in microbial-derived C (higher δ13C) with increasing particle size as well as with repeated redox oscillations. Our findings clearly demonstrate limitations of using the operationally defined "dissolved" fraction (<450 nm) to assess C cycling in ecosystems such as wetlands. Increase in colloid and OC concentrations and presence of more microbial-derived C in larger size fractions additionally imply that redox oscillations promote the formation of molecularly diverse sub-colloid sized organo-mineral associations. Being a composite unit of soil microaggregates, organic-mineral associations can thus influence the overall stability of OC in wetland soils that undergo frequent redox oscillations.

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Accession: 069614934

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PMID: 31837876

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