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Title: Long-term litter decomposition controlled by manganese redox cycling

Litter decomposition is a keystone ecosystem process impacting nutrient cycling and productivity, soil properties, and the terrestrial carbon (C) balance, but the factors regulating decomposition rate are still poorly understood. Traditional models assume that the rate is controlled by litter quality, relying on parameters such as lignin content as predictors. However, a strong correlation has been observed between the manganese (Mn) content of litter and decomposition rates across a variety of forest ecosystems. Here, we show that long-term litter decomposition in forest ecosystems is tightly coupled to Mn redox cycling. Over 7 years of litter decomposition, microbial transformation of litter was paralleled by variations in Mn oxidation state and concentration. A detailed chemical imaging analysis of the litter revealed that fungi recruit and redistribute unreactive Mn 2+ provided by fresh plant litter to produce oxidative Mn 3+ species at sites of active decay, with Mn eventually accumulating as insoluble Mn 3+/4+ oxides. Formation of reactive Mn 3+ species coincided with the generation of aromatic oxidation products, providing direct proof of the previously posited role of Mn 3+-based oxidizers in the breakdown of litter. Our results suggest that the litter-decomposing machinery at our coniferous forest site depends on the ability ofmore » plants and microbes to supply, accumulate, and regenerate short-lived Mn 3+ species in the litter layer. As a result, this observation indicates that biogeochemical constraints on bioavailability, mobility, and reactivity of Mn in the plant–soil system may have a profound impact on litter decomposition rates.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [3]
  1. Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, OR (United States); Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
  2. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  3. Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, OR (United States)
  4. Old Dominion Univ., Norfolk, VA (United States)
  5. Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424
Grant/Contract Number:
AC52-07NA27344; 10-ERD-021
Published Article
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 112; Journal Issue: 38; Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC (United States)
Research Org:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 58 GEOSCIENCES; 59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; 37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY; terrestrial carbon cycle; nutrient cycling; forest soil ecosystems; soil-atmosphere interactions; climate change
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1251089