Interaction of minerals, organic matter, and microorganisms during biogeochemical interface formation as shown by a series of artificial soil experiments
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Our understanding of the interactions between minerals, organic matter, and microorganisms at so-called biogeochemical interfaces in soil is still hampered by the inherent complexity of these systems. Artificial soil maturation experiments can help to bridge a gap in complexity between simple abiotic sorption experiments and larger-scale field experiments. By controlling other soil-forming factors, the effect of a particular variable can be identified in a simplified system. Here, we review the findings of a series of artificial soil incubation experiments with the aim of revealing general trends and conclusions. The artificial soils were designed to determine the effect of mineral composition and charcoal presence on the development of abiotic and biotic soil properties during maturation. In particular, the development of soil aggregates, organic matter (OM) composition and turnover, sorption properties, and the establishment of microbial community composition and function were considered. The main objectives of the research were to determine (1) how surface properties and sorption of chemicals modify biogeochemical interfaces; (2) how much time is required to form aggregates from mixtures of pure minerals, OM, and a microbial inoculum; and (3) how the presence of different mineral and charcoal surfaces affects aggregation, OM turnover, and the development of microbial community composition.
KeywordsExperimental pedology Soil organic matter Soil microbial ecology Secondary phyllosilicates Biogeochemical interfaces Interdisciplinary soil science
This project was carried out within the framework of the priority program 1315 “Biogeochemical Interfaces in Soil” funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) in the project “Parent materials as major properties of the biogeochemical interface: integrative analysis” (KO1035/45-1). I.K.-K. and G.J.P. are grateful for the support from the Technical University of Munich–Institute for Advanced Study, funded by the German Excellence Initiative. We thank two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on the manuscript.
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