van der Voort T S, Zell C I, Hagedorn F, Feng X, McIntyre C P, Haghipour N, Graf Pannatier E, Eglinton T I (2017) Diverse soil carbon dynamics expressed at the molecular Level. Geophysical Research Letters, 44 (23): 11,840-11,850. [10.1002/2017GL076188]


soil organic matter (SOM);radiocarbon;biomarker;compound-specific;dissolved organic carbon (DOC)


The stability and potential vulnerability of soil organic matter (SOM) to global change remain 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 subalpine 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.

LWF Classification

Network: LWF, Sites: Beatenberg;Lausanne, Category: ISI,