Fractionation of dissolved organic carbon in soil water: Effects of extraction and storage methods

Martin Christ, Mark B. David

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We measured the concentration and composition (sensu Leenheer, 1981) of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in lysimeter solutions from the forest floor of a spruce stand in Maine and in laboratory extracts of organic (Oa horizon) and mineral soils collected from various forests in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. All soils were acid Spodosols developed from glacial till. The effects of different storage, extraction and filtration methods were compared. Extracts from Oa horizons stored fresh at 3°C contained a larger fraction of hydrophobic neutrals than lysimeter forest floor solutions (31 and 4% of DOC in stored and lysimeter solutions, respectively), whereas extracts from Oa horizons which had been extracted, incubated at 10-15°C, and extracted again had DOC compositions similar to that in lysimeter solutions. Mechanical vacuum and batch extractions of Oa horizons yielded DOC similar in concentration and composition if the extracts were filtered through glass fiber filters. Nylon membrane filters, however, removed more hydrophobic acids from batch extracts. Dissolved organic carbon extracted from frozen, air-dry, and oven-dry Oa and Bh horizons was relatively rich in hydrophilic bases and neutrals and was similar to that released after chloroform fumigation, indicating that common soil-storage methods disrupt microbial biomass.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3305-3319
Number of pages15
JournalCommunications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis
Issue number19-20
StatePublished - Dec 1 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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