Faculté des sciences

Biomineralization in plants as a long-term carbon sink

Cailleau, Guillaume ; Braissant, Olivier ; Verrecchia, Eric P.

In: Naturwissenschaften, 2004, vol. 91, p. 191-194

Carbon sequestration in the global carbon cycle is almost always attributed to organic carbon storage alone, while soil mineral carbon is generally neglected. However, due to the longer residence time of mineral carbon in soils (102–106 years), if stored in large quantities it represents a potentially more efficient sink. The aim of this study is to estimate the mineral carbon accumulation due... More

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    Summary
    Carbon sequestration in the global carbon cycle is almost always attributed to organic carbon storage alone, while soil mineral carbon is generally neglected. However, due to the longer residence time of mineral carbon in soils (102–106 years), if stored in large quantities it represents a potentially more efficient sink. The aim of this study is to estimate the mineral carbon accumulation due to the tropical iroko tree (Milicia excelsa) in Ivory Coast. The iroko tree has the ability to accumulate mineral carbon as calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in ferralitic soils, where CaCO3 is not expected to precipitate. An estimate of this accumulation was made by titrating carbonate from two characteristic soil profiles in the iroko environment and by identifying calcium (Ca) sources. The system is considered as a net carbon sink because carbonate accumulation involves only atmospheric CO2 and Ca from Ca-carbonate-free sources. Around one ton of mineral carbon was found in and around an 80-year-old iroko stump, proving the existence of a mineral carbon sink related to the iroko ecosystem. Conservation of iroko trees and the many other biomineralizing plant species is crucial to the maintenance of this mineral carbon sink.