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Publication Title

Scientific Reports






The role of photodegradation, an abiotic process, has been largely overlooked during straw decomposition in mesic ecosystems. We investigated the mass loss and chemical structures of straw decomposition in response to elevated UV-B radiation with or without soil contact over a 12-month litterbag experiment. Wheat and maize straw samples with and without soil contact were exposed to three radiation levels: a no-sunlight control, ambient solar UV-B, and artificially elevated UV-B radiation. A block control with soil contact was not included. Compared with the no-sunlight control, UV-B radiation increased the mass loss by 14-19% and the ambient radiation by 9-16% for wheat and maize straws without soil contact after 12 months. Elevated UV-B exposure decreased the decomposition rates of both wheat and maize straws when in contact with soil. Light exposure resulted in decreased O-alkyl carbons and increased alkyl carbons for both the wheat and maize straws compared with no-sunlight control. The difference in soil contact may influence the contribution of photodegradation to the overall straw decomposition process. These results indicate that we must take into account the effects of photodegradation when explaining the mechanisms of straw decomposition in mesic ecosystems.

Original Publication Citation

Zhou, G. X., Zhang, J. B., Mao, J. D., Zhang, C. Z., Chen, L., Xin, X. L., & Zhao, B. Z. (2015). Mass loss and chemical structures of wheat and maize straws in response to ultraviolet-B radiation and soil contact. Scientific Reports, 5, 1-11. doi: 10.1038/srep14851