Soil organic matter (SOM) is the organic component of soil, consisting of plant and animal residues, tissues and cells of soil organisms and other substances synthesized by soil organisms. Globally, soil organic matter stores more carbon (C) than is present in the terrestrial biomass and the atmosphere combined. SOM serves as the largest carbon sink through carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emission and therefore plays an important role in global carbon cycle. Little is known, however, about the molecular processes that control the stability of SOM. It is suggested that the stability of SOM is controlled by a range of environmental factors and one of the most important environmental factor is the interaction between SOM and soil minerals particles.
The overriding questions I will address are (1) how SOM interacts with soil mineral particles and (2) how this interaction regulates carbon cycle. Besides, the retention and release of soil nutrients and contaminants are affected by SOM-mineral interaction. Therefore my study will also help improve overall vegetation, land management, agricultural crop production and so on.
Key words: climate change, carbon cycle, soil organic matter, soil minerals, interaction