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Sticky Dead Microbes: rapid abiotic retention of microbial necromass in soil

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Kate Buckeridge
  • Alfio Fabio La Rosa
  • Kelly Mason
  • Jeanette Whitaker
  • Niall McNamara
  • Helen Grant
  • Nick Ostle
Article number107929
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/10/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Soil Biology and Biochemistry
Number of pages4
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date14/08/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Microbial necromass dominates soil organic matter. Recent research on necromass and soil carbon storage has focused on necromass production and stabilization mechanisms but not on the mechanisms of necromass retention. We present evidence from soil incubations with stable-isotope labeled necromass that abiotic adsorption may be more important than biotic immobilization for short-term necromass retention. We demonstrate that necromass adsorbs not only to mineral surfaces, but may also interact with other necromass. Furthermore, necromass cell chemistry alters necromass-necromass interaction, with more bacterial tracer retained when there is yeast necromass present. These findings suggest that the adsorption and abiotic interaction of microbial necromass and its functional properties, beyond chemical stability, deserve further investigation in the context of soil carbon sequestration.