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Physical, chemical, and biochemical mechanisms of soil organic matter stabilization under conservation tillage systems: A central role for microbes and microbial by-products in C sequestration

AutorPlaza de Carlos, César ; Courtier-Murias, Denis; Fernández Arroyo, José Manuel ; Polo, Alfredo ; Simpson, André J.
Palabras claveAggregates
Conservation tillage
C sequestrartion
Microbial biomass
NMR spectroscopy
Organo-mineral complexes
Soil organic matter
Fecha de publicación17-ago-2012
CitaciónSoil Biology & Biochemistry 57 : 124-134 (2013)
ResumenConservation tillage practices that entail no or reduced soil disturbance are known to help preserve or accumulate soil organic matter (OM). However, the underlying mechanisms especially at the molecular level are not well understood. In this study soil samples from 25-year-old experimental plots continuously cropped with barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) under no-tillage (NT) and chisel tillage (CT) were subjected to a new physical fractionation method to isolate dissolved OM, mineral-free particulate OM located outside aggregates (physically and chemically unprotected), OM occluded within both macroaggregates and microaggregates (weakly and strongly protected by physical mechanisms, respectively), and OM in intimate association with minerals (protected by chemical mechanisms). The whole soils and OM fractions were analyzed for organic C and N content and by modern nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) techniques. The soil under NT stored 16% more organic C and 5% more N than the soil under CT. Compared to CT, NT increased free organic C content by 7%, intra-macroaggregate organic C content by 20%, intra-microaggregate organic C content by 63%, and mineral-associated organic C content by 16% and decreased dissolved organic C content by 11%. The mineral-associated OM pool accounted for 65% of the difference in total organic C content between NT and CT, whereas the intra-microaggregate OM only explained 18%, intra-macroaggregate OM 14%, and free OM 11%. The NMR experiments revealed that the free and intra-aggregate OM fractions were dominated by crop-derived materials at different stages of decomposition, whereas the mineral-associated OM pool was predominately of microbial origin. Overall, our results indicate that microbes and microbial by-products associated with mineral surfaces and likely physically protected by entrapment within very small microaggregates constitute the most important pool of OM stabilization and C sequestration in soils under NT. Most probably the slower macroaggregate turnover in NT relative to CT boosts not only the formation of microaggregates and thereby the physical protection of crop-derived particulate OM, but more importantly the interaction between mineral particles and microbial material that results in the formation of very stable organo-mineral complexes.
Descripción11 páginas, 6 figuras, 1 tabla
Versión del editorhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2012.07.026
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