Thaw slumps can lead to considerable carbon loss in permafrost regions, while the loss of components from two major origins, i.e., microbial and plant-derived carbon, during this process remains poorly understood. Here, we provide direct evidence that microbial necromass carbon is a major component of lost carbon in a retrogressive permafrost thaw slump by analyzing soil organic carbon (SOC), biomarkers (amino sugars and lignin phenols), and soil environmental variables in a typical permafrost thaw slump in the Tibetan Plateau. The retrogressive thaw slump led to a ∼61% decrease in SOC and a ∼25% SOC stock loss. As evident in the levels of amino sugars (average of 55.92 ± 18.79 mg g–1 of organic carbon, OC) and lignin phenols (average of 15.00 ± 8.05 mg g–1 OC), microbial-derived carbon (microbial necromass carbon) was the major component of the SOC loss, accounting for ∼54% of the SOC loss in the permafrost thaw slump. The variation of amino sugars was mainly related to the changes in soil moisture, pH, and plant input, while changes in lignin phenols were mainly related to the changes in soil moisture and soil bulk density.
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Zhou, W., Ma, T., Yin, X., Wu, X., Li, Q., Rupakheti, D., Xiong, X., Zhang, Q., Mu, C., de Foy, B., Rupakheti, M., Kang, S., & Qin, D. (2023). Dramatic Carbon Loss in a Permafrost Thaw Slump in the Tibetan Plateau is Dominated by the Loss of Microbial Necromass Carbon. Environmental science & technology, 57(17), 6761-7102. doi:10.1021/acs.est.2c07274.
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