Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology
Journal or Book Title
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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Chen, Chunmei; Hall, Steven J.; Coward, Elizabeth; and Thompson, Aaron, "Iron-mediated organic matter decomposition in humid soils can counteract protection" (2020). Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology Publications. 402.