Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2021Peer reviewed

Oxygen availability determines key regulators in soil organic carbon mineralisation in paddy soils

Li, Yuhong; Shahbaz, Muhammad; Zhu, Zhenke; Deng, Yangwu; Tong, Yaoyao; Chen, Liang; Wu, Jinshui; Ge, Tida


Rice paddy agro-ecosystems play an important role in global carbon (C) sequestration. Because of flooding management, paddy soil experience periodical changes in oxygen availability, which may make soil organic carbon (SOC) mineralisation unique as compared to upland or other wetland ecosystems. However, at present, information about the relevant mechanisms involved in paddy SOC mineralisation is limited and unclear. We selected three paddy soils with variable iron (Fe) contents, which were either fumigated with chloroform (to reduce microbial biomass) or remained un-fumigated. Soils were incubated for 78 days in one of three treatments: alternating nonflooded flooded (NF: moist for 0-30 days (oxygen-abundant) and flooded for 31-78 days (oxygen-limited)), continuously flooded (CF: oxygen-limited), and continuously anaerobically flooded (AF: oxygen-depleted). Fumigation reduced the microbial biomass C by more than 70%. Except for the nonflooded period in the NF treatment, the SOC mineralisation rate, at the late stage of each treatment, was significantly lower in the fumigated than in the un-fumigated soil. A multiple regressions showed that a reduction in dissolved organic C contents over time contributed to the cumulative SOC mineralisation only during the nonflooded period in the NF treatment. Furthermore, the labile C pool size was smaller in the AF treatment relative to the other treatments. These imply that dissolved substrates in oxygen-depleted paddy soil were of greater recalcitrance, most likely due to thermodynamic reasons. SOC mineralisation correlated with changes in the redox potential and the Fe2+ contents in the CF and AF treatments only. This indicates that under oxygen-limited and -depleted conditions, Fe played a significant role as an electron acceptor during SOC mineralisation. Correlation and linear regression analyses also suggest that Fe influenced dissolved organic C contents, and hydrolase and oxidative activities. Our findings show that SOC bioavailability is a rate-limiting factor for SOC mineralisation, but only under oxygen-abundant conditions. However, under oxygen-limited or -depleted conditions, microbial biomass, the recalcitrance of organic C compounds, and the availability of electron acceptors are key regulators in determining the intensity and rate of SOC mineralisation.


Fumigation; Redox potential; Regulatory gate; Rice paddy soil; SOC mineralisation

Published in

Soil Biology and Biochemistry
2021, Volume: 153, article number: 108106

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Agricultural Science
    Soil Science

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)