07 Aug 2014
 | 07 Aug 2014
Status: this preprint was under review for the journal BG but the revision was not accepted.

Volatile Organic Compound emissions from soil: using Proton-Transfer-Reaction Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (PTR-TOF-MS) for the real time observation of microbial processes

P. R. Veres, T. Behrendt, A. Klapthor, F. X. Meixner, and J. Williams

Abstract. In this study we report on the emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and nitric oxide (NO) from two contrasting soils (equatorial rainforest and arid cotton field) analyzed in a laboratory based dynamic chamber system. The effect of soil moisture and soil temperature on VOC and NO emission was examined in laboratory incubation experiments by measuring as a pre-saturated soil dried out. Our results suggest that real time monitoring of VOC emissions from soil using a proton-transfer-reaction time-of-flight mass spectrometer (PTR-TOF-MS) instrument can be used to improve our understanding of the release mechanisms of trace gases (e.g. NO, N2O) that are involved in the nitrogen cycle. Moreover, we report on the release rate of various VOC species, many of which exhibit a temperature dependent response indicative of biological production, namely a temperature amplification factor (Q10) ∼ 2–3. Contrary to the conventional modeling of NO emissions from soils, that the release of NO from the overall community across the range of soil water content can be modeled as an optimum function, we suggest that VOC measurements indicate there exist multiple distinct contributing microbial guilds releasing NO. These microbial guilds could likely be individually identified with the observed VOC profiles. Using a cotton field soil sample from a Sache oasis (Taklimakan desert, Xinijang, P. R. China), we identify five VOC emission groups with varying degrees of NO co-emission. An equatorial rainforest soil (Suriname) was shown to emit a variety of VOC including acetaldehyde, acetone, DMS, formaldehyde, and isoprene that vary strongly and individually as a function of temperature and soil moisture content. PTR-TOF-MS with high time resolution, sensitivity, and molecular specificity is an ideal tool for the real time analysis of VOC and NO emitting processes in soil systems. These experiments can be used as a template for future experiments to more completely and specifically identify the active microbial guilds in soils and to characterize the impact of soil VOC emissions on the atmosphere.

P. R. Veres et al.

P. R. Veres et al.

P. R. Veres et al.


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