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Type: Journal article
Title: Fire-derived organic matter retains ammonia through covalent bond formation
Author: Hestrin, R.
Torres-Rojas, D.
Dynes, J.
Hook, J.
Regier, T.
Gillespie, A.
Smernik, R.
Lehmann, J.
Citation: Nature Communications, 2019; 10(1):664-1-664-8
Publisher: Springer Nature
Issue Date: 2019
ISSN: 2041-1723
Statement of
Rachel Hestrin, Dorisel Torres-Rojas, James J. Dynes, James M. Hook, Tom Z. Regier, Adam W. Gillespie, Ronald J. Smernik, Johannes Lehmann
Abstract: Fire-derived organic matter, often referred to as pyrogenic organic matter (PyOM), is present in the Earth's soil, sediment, atmosphere, and water. We investigated interactions of PyOM with ammonia (NH₃) gas, which makes up much of the Earth's reactive nitrogen (N) pool. Here we show that PyOM's NH₃ retention capacity under ambient conditions can exceed 180 mg N g⁻¹ PyOM-carbon, resulting in a material with a higher N content than any unprocessed plant material and most animal manures. As PyOM is weathered, NH₃ retention increases sixfold, with more than half of the N retained through chemisorption rather than physisorption. Near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy reveal that a variety of covalent bonds form between NH₃-N and PyOM, more than 10% of which contained heterocyclic structures. We estimate that through these mechanisms soil PyOM stocks could retain more than 600-fold annual NH₃ emissions from agriculture, exerting an important control on global N cycling.
Rights: © The Author(s) 2019. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
RMID: 0030108279
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-08401-z
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Appears in Collections:Agriculture, Food and Wine publications

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