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Research article2017Peer reviewed

Two dimensional NMR spectroscopy for molecular characterization of soil organic matter: Application to boreal soils and litter

Soucemarianadin, Laure N.; Erhagen, Bjorn; Nilsson, Mats B.; Oquist, Mats G.; Immerzeel, Peter; Schleucher, Jurgen


Organic soils in boreal ecosystems and peatlands represent a huge global carbon pool and their composition strongly affects soil properties. Nevertheless, the characterization of soil organic matter (SOM) molecular composition, which is essential for elucidating soil carbon processes and turnover, is not easily achieved, and further advances in the area are greatly needed. Two dimensional (2D) liquid state H-1-C-13 nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy has been used on dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) extracts of SOM to achieve molecular level characterization, with signals from many identifiable molecular groups observable. Here we show that a simple and fast sample preparation allows acquisition of 2D H-1-C-13 NMR spectra from extracts of plant litter and organic layers in boreal ecosystems, with fast data acquisition. Our 2D NMR spectra revealed several differences in the DMSO extracts of different tree litter samples, O-horizons of forest soil, peat-forming moss (Sphagnum) and peat. The results mirror established differences between OM in soils and litter of different forest ecosystems (e.g. between deciduous and coniferous litter) but also provide indications for research to untangle previously conflicting results (e.g. cutin degradation in soil or carbohydrate degradation in peat). Thus, combination of 2D NMR methods can greatly improve analysis of litter composition and SOM composition, thereby facilitating the elucidation of their roles in biogeochemical and ecological processes that are critical for foreseeing feedback mechanisms for SOM turnover as a result of global environmental change. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Soil organic matter; Molecular characterization; DMSO-extracts; 2D NMR; HSQC; Carbon inputs; Lignin; Polysaccharides

Published in

Organic Geochemistry
2017, Volume: 113, pages: 184-195