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Title: Advanced solvent based methods for molecular characterization of soil organic matter by high-resolution mass spectrometry

Soil organic matter (SOM) a complex, heterogeneous mixture of above and belowground plant litter and animal and microbial residues at various degrees of decomposition, is a key reservoir for carbon (C) and nutrient biogeochemical cycling in soil based ecosystems. A limited understanding of the molecular composition of SOM limits the ability to routinely decipher chemical processes within soil and predict accurately how terrestrial carbon fluxes will response to changing climatic conditions and land use. To elucidate the molecular-level structure of SOM, we selectively extracted a broad range of intact SOM compounds by a combination of different organic solvents from soils with a wide range of C content. Our use of Electrospray ionization (ESI) coupled with Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FTICR MS) and a suite of solvents with varying polarity significantly expands the inventory of the types of organic molecules present in soils. Specifically, we found that hexane is selective for lipid-like compounds with very low O:C ratios; water was selective for carbohydrates with high O:C ratios; acetonitrile preferentially extracts lignin, condensed structures, and tannin poly phenolic compounds with O:C > 0.5; methanol has higher selectivity towards compounds characterized with low O:C < 0.5; and hexane, MeOH, ACNmore » and water solvents increase the number and types of organic molecules extracted from soil for a broader range of chemically diverse soil types. Our study of SOM molecules by ESI-FTICR MS revealed new insight into the molecular-level complexity of organics contained in soils.« less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
48643; 48616; 48252; 48698; KP1704020
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Analytical Chemistry, 87(10):5206-5215
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US), Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory