skip to main content

SciTech ConnectSciTech Connect

Title: Exploratory Research - Using Volatile Organic Compounds to Separate Heterotrophic and Autotrophic Forest Soil Respiration

The initial focus of this project was to develop a method to partition soil respiration into its components (autotrophic, heterotrophic etc.) using the fingerprint of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from soils. We were able to identify 63 different VOCs in our study; however, due to technical difficulties we were unable to take reliable measurements in order to test our hypotheses and develop this method. In the end, we changed the objectives of the project. Our new objectives were to characterize the effects of species and soil moisture regime on the composition of soil organic matter. We utilized the soils from the greenhouse experiment we had established for the soil VOC study and determined the lignin biomarker profiles of each of the treatments. We found that moisture had a significant effect on the carbon content of the soils with the low moisture treatments having higher carbon content than the high moisture treatments. We found that the relative yield of syringyl phenols (SP), ligin (Lig), and substituted fatty acids (SFA) were elevated in deciduous planted pots and reduced in conifer planted pots relative to plant-free treatments. Our results suggest nuttall oak preserved lignin and SFA, while loblolly pine lost lignin and SFAmore » similarly to the plant free treatments. Since we did not find that the carbon concentrations of the soils were different between the species, nuttall oak probably replaced more native soil carbon than loblolly pine. This suggests that relative to loblolly pine, nuttall oak is a priming species. Since priming may impact soil carbon pools more than temperature or moisture, determining which species are priming species may facilitate an understanding of the interaction that land use and climate change may have on soil carbon pools.« less
 [1] ;  [2]
  1. Mississippi State University
  2. Oregon State University
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Mississippi State University
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES Volatile organic compounds; soil organic matter, soil carbon