Permanganate oxidizable carbon reflects a processed soil fraction that is sensitive to management

Steven W. Culman, Sieglinde S. Snapp, Mark A. Freeman, Meagan E. Schipanski, Josh Beniston, Rattan Lal, Laurie E. Drinkwater, Alan J. Franzluebbers, Jerry D. Glover, A. Stuart Grandy, Juhwan Lee, Johan Six, Jude E. Maul, Steven B. Mirksy, John T. Spargo, Michelle M. Wander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Permanganate oxidizable C (POXC; i.e., active C) is a relatively new method that can quantify labile soil C rapidly and inexpensively. Despite limited reports of positive correlations with particulate organic C (POC), microbial biomass C (MBC), and other soil C fractions, little is known about what soil fractions POXC most closely refl ects. We measured POXC across a wide range of soil types, ecosystems, and geographic areas (12 studies, 53 total sites, n = 1379) to: (i) determine the relationship between POXC and POC, MBC and soil organic C (SOC) fractions, and (ii) determine the relative sensitivity of POXC as a labile soil C metric across a range of environmental and management conditions. Permanganate oxidizable C was signifi cantly related to POC, MBC, and SOC, and these relationships were strongest when data were analyzed by individual studies. Permanganate oxidizable C was more closely related to smaller-sized (53-250 μ m) than larger POC fractions (250- 2000 μ m), and more closely related to heavier (>1.7 g cm -3) than lighter POC fractions, indicating that it refl ects a relatively processed pool of labile soil C. Compared with POC, MBC, or SOC, POXC demonstrated greater sensitivity to changes in management or environmental variation in 42% of the signifi cant experimental factors examined across the 12 studies. Our analysis demonstrates the usefulness of POXC in quickly and inexpensively assessing changes in the labile soil C pool.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)494-504
Number of pages11
JournalSoil Science Society of America Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science


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