Effect of sterilization on mineralization of straw and black carbon

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The study was aimed at investigating the role of microorganisms in the degradation of BC (black carbon). CO evolution was measured under sterilized and non-sterilized soil using BC and straw amendments. Black carbon and straw were produced from homogenously C labelled roots of barley (Hordeum vulgare) with a specific activity 2.9 MBq g C. Production of BC was implemented at 300 °C for 24 h in a muffle oven, incubated in soil and C in the evolved CO was measured after 0.5, 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 26 and 40 days. BC showed much lower and slow evolution of CO than the plant material which refers to high resistance of BC to microbial degradation. The difference between soil respiration in sterilized and non-sterilized soil with plant material was visible from the beginning of the experiment, unlike with BC amendments where differences only occurred after some days. In addition, the CO evolution from the plant material proceeded with a lag phase while CO evolution from the charcoals showed no lag phase. This indicates that microorganisms are not involved in the initial flush of carbon emitted from the BC. We suggest that an alternative source may be carbonates on the surfaces of the BC, but another abiotic source must also be present perhaps abiotic mineralization of labile BC components.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFresenius Environmental Bulletin
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1727-1730
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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