Kirschbaum, M.U.F., Lambie, S.M., Zhou, H. (2011). No UV enhancement of litter decomposition observed on dry samples under controlled laboratory conditions. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 43: 1300-1307 .

Abstract. In field studies, various workers have observed a stimulation of organic matter breakdown by visible light and UV radiation. We aimed to confirm the involvement of UV radiation under controlled laboratory conditions and quantify the magnitude of any stimulation. Grass and pine foliage samples were oven-dried and continuously exposed to UV radiation at room temperature for up to 60 days. A range of UV flux densities was established using shading to different levels. After UV exposure under air-dry conditions, samples were re-wetted and incubated in the dark with microbial inoculums to investigate whether UV exposure had rendered samples more susceptible to subsequent microbial decomposition.

However, we found no weight loss associated with different UV flux densities. The same finding held true for grass and pine litter samples. Similarly, microbial decomposition of either grass or pine litter was not enhanced by prior UV exposure. These findings suggest that UV-induced photooxidation of dry materials cannot be responsible for the observed apparent enhancement of weight loss of litter samples under UV exposure in the field.

Key words: Bleaching; decomposition; environmental drivers; microbial degradation; photooxidation; UV radiation.

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