Composition and concentration of root exudate analogues regulate greenhouse gas fluxes from tropical peat

Tropical peatlands are a significant carbon store and source of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) to the atmosphere. Plants can contribute to these gas emissions through the release of root exudates, including sugars and organic acids amongst other biomolecules, but the roles of concentration and composition of exudates in regulating emissions remains poorly understood. We conducted a laboratory incubation to assess how the type and concentration of root exudate analogues regulate CO2 and CH4 production from tropical peats under anoxic conditions. For CO2 production, substrate concentration was the more important driver, with increased CO2 fluxes following higher addition rates of four out of the six exudate analogues. In contrast, exudate type was the more important driver of CH4 production, with acetate addition associated with the greatest production, and inverse correlations between exudate concentration and CH4 emission for the remaining five treatments. Root exudate analogues also altered pH and redox potential, dependent on the type of addition (organic acid or sugar) and the concentration. Overall, these findings demonstrate the contrasting roles of composition and concentration of root exudate inputs in regulating greenhouse gas emissions from tropical peatlands. In turn this highlights how changes in plant communities will influence emissions through species specific inputs, and the possible impacts of increased root exudation driven by rising atmospheric CO2 and warming. © 2018 The Authors
  • Authors: Girkin, N.T., Turner, B.L., Ostle, N., Sjögersten, S.
  • Author Affiliation: University of Nottingham, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Lancaster University
  • Subjects: peatlands, tropics, carbon dioxide, methane production, root exudates, organic acids
  • Publication type: Journal Article
  • Source: Soil Biology and Biochemistry 127: 280-285
  • Year: 2018
  • DOI:
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