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Electron Accepting Capacities of a wide variety of peat materials from around the Globe similarly explain CO2 and CH4 production
  • Patrick Guth,
  • Chuanyu Gao,
  • Klaus Holger Knorr
Patrick Guth
University of M√ľnster
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Chuanyu Gao
Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology
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Klaus Holger Knorr
University of Muenster

Corresponding Author:kh.knorr@uni-muenster.de

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In organic soils the availability of electron acceptors determines the ratio of CO2 to CH4 formation under anoxic conditions. While typically only inorganic electron acceptors are considered, the importance of electron accepting capacities of organic matter is increasingly acknowledged. Redox properties of organic matter are yet only investigated for a limited set of peat and reference materials. Therefore, we incubated 60 peat samples of 15 sites located in five major peatland regions covering a variety of both bog and fen samples and characterized their capacities to serve as electron acceptor for anaerobic CO2 production.
We quantified CO2 and CH4 formation, and changes in available EAC in anoxic incubations of 56 days. On the time scale of our experiment, on average 36.5 % of CO2 could be attributed to CH4 formation, assuming an CO2/CH4 ratio for methanogenesis of 1:1. Regarding the remaining CO2 formed, for which a corresponding electron acceptor would be needed, we could on average explain 70.8 % by corresponding consumption of EAC from both organic and inorganic electron acceptors, the latter contributing typically less than 0.1 %. When the initial EAC was high, CO2 formation from apparent consumption of EAC was high and outweighed CO2 formation from methanogenesis. A rapid depletion of available EAC resulted in a higher share of CO2 from CH4 formation.
Our study demonstrates that EAC provides the most important redox buffer for competitive suppression of CH4 formation in peat soils. Moreover, electron budgets including EAC of organic matter could largely explain anaerobic CO2 production.