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Meeting Abstract

Could bacterial residues be an important source of SOM?: a case study from a glacier forefiel


Berger,  J
Electron Microscopy, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Schurig, C., Smittenberg, R., Berger, J., Kraft, F., Woche, S., Göbel, M.-O., et al. (2012). Could bacterial residues be an important source of SOM?: a case study from a glacier forefiel. Biospektrum, 2012(Sonderausgabe): SMV007, 211.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000C-C6C3-8
Recently, stocks of soil organic matter (SOM) have been shown to decrease in European soils and also worldwide, which compromises soil fertility and enhances emissions of carbon dioxide and other, even worse green-house gases, to the atmosphere. However, the general structure of SOM, and thereby the mechanisms behind its genesis and loss, remain unclear. In this framework, microbial biomass is generally regarded to be of low importance for SOM formation. In particular on freshly exposed surfaces, however, bacteria colonize barren mineral surfaces faster than fungi or higher plants. Moreover, recent results indicate that bacterial cell wall fragments frequently occur on soil mineral surfaces and also accompany the microbial colonization of previously clean and sterile activated carbon surfaces after incubation in groundwater. Hence, we hypothesized that, at least, in the initial stages of soil formation bacteria and their fragments may play an important role in particulate SOM formation bearing in mind that most dead organic matter entering the soil is processed by bacteria. This hypothesis was proven by tracing the development of SOM in a chronosequence with samples from the forefield of a receding glacier (Damma-glacier, Canton Uri,Switzerland) by scanning electron microscopy and other methods. The initially barren mineral surfaces have been shown to be rapidly covered with microbial residues as soil age increases. Moreover, this data compares well to growing C/N-ratios, water contact angles and fatty acid contents in earlier deglaciated samples.