Selective accrual and dynamics of proteinaceous compounds during pedogenesis: testing source and sink selection hypotheses
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The emerging evidence of preferential accumulation and long residence time of proteinaceous compounds in soil are counter to the traditional view that their structure is readily broken down through microbial activity. The shift in thinking of their residence time is, however, heavily influenced by physical and chemical protections in soil, representing an important change for understanding global biogeochemical carbon and nitrogen cycling. We investigated the accumulation patterns of proteinogenic amino acids for a long term (thousands of years) related to their sources and sinks. We found clear patterns of change in the amino acids in a 4000 year-chronosequence adjacent to Lake Michigan, USA (Michigan chronosequence) and they were tightly related to the shifts in their biological sources, namely aboveground vegetative community (r2=0.66, p<0.0001) and belowground microbial community (r2=0.71, p<0.0001). Results also showed great variations of approximately 49% between seasons (summer and winter). Moreover, seasonal dynamic patterns (22% variations) of the amino acids in soil mineral associated fraction were rather counter to the conceptual view that it represents a slow soil organic pool with long residence times. The amino acids enriched in the mineral associated fraction, (e.g., positively charged, aromatic, and sulfur containing amino acids), tended to preferentially accumulate in whole soil pool during the 4000 years of ecosystem development. Their interaction with soil minerals, therefore, may play a critical role in the long-term sink and selective accumulation of proteinaceous compounds with some degree of the displacement. This was further confirmed by another chronosequence system near Haast River, New Zealand, which is geologically separated and climatically- and ecologically- different from the Michigan chronosequence. Common trends between two chronosequences suggested that either polar interactions or redox reactions may be relatively more important in the mineral interaction of amino acids than non-polar interactions. The consistency of results at two disparate locations in the southern and northern hemispheres is strong evidence that the processes of pedogenesis and ecosystem development are parsimonious and predictable. Our research demonstrated fundamental understanding of behavior of proteinaceous compounds at the molecular species level, and further provided their partitioning mechanisms associated with soil components.
- Doctoral Dissertations