Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Glomalin Is Key To Locking Up Soil Carbon

Date:
July 2, 2008
Source:
USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
Glomalin, the substance coating this microscopic fungus growing on a corn root, can keep carbon in the soil from decomposing for up to 100 years.

Glomalin, the substance coating this microscopic fungus growing on a corn root, can keep carbon in the soil from decomposing for up to 100 years.
Credit: Photo by Sara Wright

A soil constituent known as glomalin provides a secure vault for the world's soil carbon. That’s according to Kristine Nichols, a microbiologist at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory in Mandan, N.D.

Glomalin is a sticky substance secreted by threadlike fungal structures called hyphae that funnel nutrients and water to plant roots. Glomalin acts like little globs of chewing gum on strings or strands of plant roots and the fungal hyphae. Into this sticky “string bag” fall the sand, silt and clay particles that make up soil, along with plant debris and other carbon-containing organic matter. The sand, silt and clay stick to the glomalin, starting aggregate formation, a major step in soil creation.

On the surface of soil aggregates, glomalin forms a lattice-like waxy coating to keep water from flowing rapidly into the aggregate and washing away everything, including the carbon. As the builder of the formation “bag” for soil, glomalin is vital globally to soil building, productivity and sustainability, as well as to carbon storage.

Nichols uses glomalin measurements to gauge which farming or rangeland practices work best for storing carbon. Since glomalin levels can reflect how much carbon each practice is storing, they could be used in conjunction with carbon credit trading programs.

In studies on cropland, Nichols has found that both tilling and leaving land idle—as is common in arid regions—lower glomalin levels by destroying living hyphal fungal networks. The networks need live roots and do better in undisturbed soil.

When glomalin binds with iron or other heavy metals, it can keep carbon from decomposing for up to 100 years. Even without heavy metals, glomalin stores carbon in the inner recesses of soil particles where only slow-acting microbes live. This carbon in organic matter is also saved, like a slow-release fertilizer, for later use by plants and hyphae.

Nichols began her career with ARS working with soil scientist Sara Wright, who first discovered and named glomalin in 1996. Wright has since retired.

Nichols presented these research results June 17 at a public field day in Brookings, S.D.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA/Agricultural Research Service. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Glomalin Is Key To Locking Up Soil Carbon." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080629075404.htm>.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. (2008, July 2). Glomalin Is Key To Locking Up Soil Carbon. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080629075404.htm
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Glomalin Is Key To Locking Up Soil Carbon." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080629075404.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2014) A 9-year-old Michigan boy was exploring a creek when he came across a 10,000-year-old tooth from a prehistoric mastodon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins