Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

Organic carbon compounds associated with deep soil carbon stores

Sangmanee, P., Dell, B., Harper, R.J.ORCID: 0000-0003-0268-2917, George, S. and Henry, D.J.ORCID: 0000-0002-9629-4423 (2022) Organic carbon compounds associated with deep soil carbon stores. Plant and Soil .

Free to read:
*No subscription required



Organic carbon has been reported in deep regolithic profiles to depths of tens of metres, but the composition of the carbon compounds is unknown.


Residual carbon in the form of non-volatile low molecular weight compounds (LMWC) was characterised in three deep soil profiles to a depth of 19 m under farmland in south-western Australia following extraction with ethyl acetate and analysis by GC/MS. Pyrolysis and off-line thermochemolysis were used to characterise macromolecular organic carbon (MOC) to a depth of 29 m at a fourth site.


Three compound classes occurred across the three different field locations: (1) terpenes, (2) fatty acids, amides and alcohols, and (3) plant steroids; indicating the influence of input of the past and present vegetation. Compounds related to fatty acids were the predominant residual carbon species in deep soils, and may be derived from plants and microorganisms. Biomarkers such as lignin, polysaccharides, proteins and terpenes at 0–0.1 m implied influences of vegetation, fire events and microorganisms. Pyrolysis found that polysaccharides were distributed mainly from 0 to 0.1 m, while aromatic compounds were consistently detected down to 29 m.


Carbon was stabilised in the form of aromatic compounds in deep soil, whereas other carbon sources such as cellulose, chitin, and N-containing compounds were confined to the surface soil. LMWC (Z)-docos-13-enamide and bis(6-methylheptyl) phthalate, were the main components throughout the soil profiles representing 53–81% of the LMWC, and were a greater proportion of the organic matter at depths of 18–19 m.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Food Futures Institute
Publisher: Kluwer Academic Publishers
Copyright: © 2022 The Authors.
Item Control Page Item Control Page


Downloads per month over past year