Stuckey, J.W., C. Goodwin, J. Wang, L.A. Kaplan, P. Vidal-Esquivel, T.P. Beebe Jr., and D.L. Sparks. 2018. Geochemical Transactions 19:6.
doi: 10.1186/s12932-018-0051-x (Article is open access and may be downloaded at that link)
Minerals constitute a primary ecosystem control on organic C decomposition in soils, and therefore on greenhouse gas fluxes to the atmosphere. Secondary minerals, in particular, Fe and Al (oxyhydr)oxides — collectively referred to as “oxides” hereafter — are prominent protectors of organic C against microbial decomposition through sorption and complexation reactions. However, the impacts of Mn oxides on organic C retention and lability in soils are poorly understood. Here we show that hydrous Mn oxide (HMO), a poorly crystalline δ-MnO2, has a greater maximum sorption capacity for dissolved organic matter (DOM) derived from a deciduous forest composite Oi, Oe, and Oa horizon leachate (“O horizon leachate” hereafter) than does goethite under acidic (pH 5) conditions. Nonetheless, goethite has a stronger sorption capacity for DOM at low initial C:(Mn or Fe) molar ratios compared to HMO, probably due to ligand exchange with carboxylate groups as revealed by attenuated total reflectance-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and scanning transmission X-ray microscopy–near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy coupled with Mn mass balance calculations reveal that DOM sorption onto HMO induces partial Mn reductive dissolution and Mn reduction of the residual HMO. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy further shows increasing Mn(II) concentrations are correlated with increasing oxidized C (C=O) content (r = 0.78, P < 0.0006) on the DOM–HMO complexes. We posit that DOM is the more probable reductant of HMO, as Mn(II)-induced HMO dissolution does not alter the Mn speciation of the residual HMO at pH 5. At a lower C loading (2 × 102 μg C m−2), DOM desorption—assessed by 0.1 M NaH2PO4 extraction—is lower for HMO than for goethite, whereas the extent of desorption is the same at a higher C loading (4 × 102 μg C m−2). No significant differences are observed in the impacts of HMO and goethite on the biodegradability of the DOM remaining in solution after DOM sorption reaches steady state. Overall, HMO shows a relatively strong capacity to sorb DOM and resist phosphate-induced desorption, but DOM–HMO complexes may be more vulnerable to reductive dissolution than DOM–goethite complexes.