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Nitrogen enrichment during soil organic matter burning and molecular evidence of maillard reactions

March 9, 2022

Wildfires in forested watersheds dramatically alter stored and labile soil organic matter (SOM) pools and the export of dissolved organic matter (DOM). Ecosystem recovery after wildfires depends on soil microbial communities and revegetation and therefore is limited by the availability of nutrients, such as nitrogen-containing and labile, water-soluble compounds. However, SOM byproducts produced at different wildfire intensities are poorly understood, leading to difficulties in assessing wildfire severity and predicting ecosystem recovery. In this work, water-extractable organic matter (WEOM) from laboratory microcosms of soil burned at discrete temperatures was characterized by ultrahigh-resolution Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry to study the impacts of fire temperature on SOM and DOM composition. The molecular composition derived from different burn temperatures indicated that nitrogen-containing byproducts were enriched with heating and composed of a wide range of aromatic features and oxidation states. Mass difference-based analysis also suggested that products formed during heating could be modeled using transformations along the Maillard reaction pathway. The enrichment of N-containing SOM and DOM at different soil burning intensities has important implications for ecosystem recovery and downstream water quality.

Publication Year 2022
Title Nitrogen enrichment during soil organic matter burning and molecular evidence of maillard reactions
DOI 10.1021/acs.est.1c06745
Authors William Bahureksa, Robert B. Young, Amy M. McKenna, Huan Chen, Kevin A. Thorn, Fernando L. Rosario-Ortiz, Thomas Borch
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Science and Technology
Index ID 70237671
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization WMA - Earth System Processes Division