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Effects of freeze-thaw cycles on aggregate-associated organic carbon and glomalin-related soil protein in natural-succession grassland and Chinese pine forest on the Loess Plateau

Xiao, Lie, Zhang, Yang, Li, Peng, Xu, Guoce, Shi, Peng, Zhang, Yi
Geoderma 2019 v.334 pp. 1-8
Artemisia capillaris, Artemisia gmelinii, Bothriochloa ischaemum, Pinus tabuliformis, aggregate stability, coniferous forests, ecological restoration, freeze-thaw cycles, glycoproteins, grasslands, hydrophobicity, soil aggregates, soil organic carbon, soil sampling, China
Glomalin-related soil protein (GRSP) is a hydrophobic glycoprotein that can protect soil organic carbon (SOC) from decomposition by promoting the formation of soil aggregates. Few studies, however, have evaluated the response of aggregate-associated SOC and GRSP to freeze-thaw cycles (FTs) under different patterns of vegetation restoration. Soil samples were collected from three typical natural-succession grasslands (dominated by Artemisia capillaris, A. sacrorum, and Bothriochloa ischaemum) and a Chinese pine (Pinus tabuliformis) forest before and after natural FTs during a winter-spring season on the Loess Plateau in China. The soil aggregate stability and concentrations of SOC, easily extractable GRSP (EE-GRSP) and total GRSP (T-GRSP) in different aggregate fractions were measured. The FTs decreased the proportion of >5.0 mm wet-sieved fractions, increased the proportion of <0.25 mm wet-sieved fractions, and decreased the mean weight diameters by 8.7, 9.5, 2.9, and 9.4% in the soils of A. capillaris, A. sacrorum, B. ischaemum, and P. tabuliformis, respectively. The SOC, T-GRSP, and EE-GRSP concentrations in each aggregate fraction generally decreased after FTs in the four vegetation types. The SOC, T-GRSP, and EE-GRSP concentrations did not differ significantly in the larger aggregate fractions before the FTs in the soils for B. ischaemum and P. tabuliformis, but their concentrations were significantly higher for B. ischaemum than P. tabuliformis after FTs. The SOC and GRSP concentrations were significantly and linearly correlated in most aggregate fractions both before and after the FTs. These results indicated that the FTs decreased SOC by decreasing the GRSP concentration in each aggregate fraction and that SOC was more sensitive to FTs in forest than in natural-succession grassland.