Soil microbes are big helpers for long term carbon storage

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In Illinois, a new approach to better understand the role of soil organic matter in long term carbon storage and its response to changes in global climate and atmospheric chemistry has been proposed by three scientists in the U.S. and China.

“Soil is important to life on Earth as we know it,” said Julie Jastrow, group leader in the Argonne National Laboratory’s Environmental Science Division. “Soils, and particularly soil organic matter, are key to many of the essential services and functions that soils provide.”

“Soil organic matter specialists long believed that remnants of decayed plant matter were the principal components of stabilized soil carbon,” said lead author Chao Liang from the Institute of Applied Ecology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. “But evolving analytical approaches have led researchers to shift toward the view that dead microbial biomass and other microbial residues could contribute even more significantly to stable carbon pools.”