Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 15, issue 11
Biogeosciences, 15, 3591-3601, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-15-3591-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Biogeosciences, 15, 3591-3601, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-15-3591-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 15 Jun 2018

Research article | 15 Jun 2018

Rapid mineralization of biogenic volatile organic compounds in temperate and Arctic soils

Christian Nyrop Albers1,2, Magnus Kramshøj1,2,3, and Riikka Rinnan2,3 Christian Nyrop Albers et al.
  • 1Department of Geochemistry, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), Øster Voldgade 10, 1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark
  • 2Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Center for Permafrost (CENPERM), University of Copenhagen, Øster Voldgade 10, 1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark
  • 3Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, 2100 Copenhagen E, Denmark

Abstract. Biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) are produced by all life forms. Their release into the atmosphere is important with regards to a number of climate-related physical and chemical processes and great effort has been put into determining sources and sinks of these compounds in recent years. Soil microbes have been suggested as a possible sink for BVOCs in the atmosphere; however, experimental evidence for this sink is scarce despite its potentially high importance to both carbon cycling and atmospheric concentrations of these gases. We therefore conducted a study with a number of commonly occurring BVOCs labelled with 14C and modified existing methods to study the mineralization of these compounds to 14CO2 in four different topsoils. Five of the six BVOCs were rapidly mineralized by microbes in all soils. However, great differences were observed with regards to the speed of mineralization, extent of mineralization and variation between soil types. Methanol, benzaldehyde, acetophenone and the oxygenated monoterpene geraniol were mineralized within hours in all soils. The hydrocarbon monoterpene p-cymene was mineralized rapidly in soil from a coniferous forest but was mineralized slower in soil from an adjacent beech stand, while chloroform was mineralized slowly in all soils. From our study it is clear that soil microbes are able to completely degrade BVOCs released by above-ground vegetation as well as BVOCs released by soil microbes and plant roots. In addition to the possible atmospheric implications of this degradation, the very fast mineralization rates are likely important in shaping the net BVOC emissions from soil and it is possible that BVOC formation and degradation may be important but little-recognized parts of internal carbon cycling in soil.

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