Exogenous Phosphorus Inputs Alter Complexity of Soil-Dissolved Organic Carbon in Agricultural Riparian Wetlands

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High-strengthened farmland fertilization leads to mass inputs of nutrients and elements to agricultural riparian wetlands. The dissolved organic carbon (DOC) of such wetland sediments is an important intermediate in global carbon (C) cycling due to its role in connecting soil C pools with atmospheric CO2. But the impact of phosphorus (P) on sediment DOC is still largely unknown, despite increasing investigations to emphasize P interception by riparian wetlands. Here, we simulated the temporal influences of exogenous P on sediment DOC of riparian wetlands by integrating gradient P loading at rates of 0%, 5%, 10%, 20%, 30%, and 60% relative to the initial total phosphorus content of the sediment with the purpose of illustrating the role of external P on the complexity of soil DOC in terms of its amount and composition. After incubating for nine months, a dramatic linear correlation between Olsen-P and fluorescent and ultraviolet spectral indices considered DOC skeleton was observed. Together with a more microbial-derived origin of DOC and a reduction of DOC aromaticity or humicity, the excitation-emission matrix had shown a blue shift reflecting a trend towards a simpler molecular structure of sediment DOC after P addition. Meanwhile, the content of soil DOC and its ratio with total organic carbon (TOC) were also increased by P loading, coupled with enhanced values of highly labile organic carbon and two C-related enzymes. While TOC and recalcitrant organic carbon decreased significantly. Such implications of DOC amounts and composition stimulated by external P loading may enhance its bioavailability, thereby inducing an accelerated effect on soil C cycling and a potential C loss in response to global climate change.