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Harvard Forest Research Project 2022

  • Title: Assessing the impacts of root exudate composition on SOM formation and destabilization
  • Principal investigator: Benton Taylor (
  • Institution: Harvard University
  • Primary contact: Nikhil Chari (
  • Team members:
  • Abstract:

    Elevated CO2 (eCO2) levels are projected to change the amount and composition of root exudates released from plants into soil. Mineral associated organic matter (MAOM) is the longest cycling fraction of soil organic matter, and changes in root exudates with eCO2 may either form or destabilize MAOM. Here, we use “artificial roots” (small porous tubes) inserted into intact soil cores from Harvard Forest to deliver different types and amounts of exudate solutions to native forest soils. This will allow us to examine the effects of different root exudate treatments (sugars, amino acids, organic acids) on MAOM formation and loss. Specifically, we will assess soil %C, %N (MAOM, particulate organic matter, and total), and microbial biomass in addition to porewater dissolved organic carbon, iron, and aluminum. Understanding the effects of specific exudate types on soil carbon stabilization will provide key insights into how future changes in root exudation may influence the long-term carbon storage capacity of temperate forest soils.