Acid hydrolysis to partition plant material into decomposable and resistant fractions for use in the Rothamsted carbon model

Yasuhito Shirato*, Masayuki Yokozawa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


Using various plant materials, we identified two conceptual pools of plant litter, decomposable plant material (DPM) and resistant plant material (RPM), in the Rothamsted Carbon Model (RothC) by comparing the default proportions of DPM and RPM in the RothC and proportions in plant material fractions as determined by two-step acid hydrolysis with H2SO4. We collected 37 plant samples from 15 species at six sites on arable land, grassland, or forest in Japan. Carbon in the plant materials was divided into three pools by acid hydrolysis: (a) Labile Pool I (LP I), obtained by hydrolysis with 5 N H 2SO4 at 105 °C for 30 min; (b) Labile Pool II (LP II), obtained by hydrolysis with 26 N H2SO4 at room temperature overnight, and then with 2 N H2SO4 at 105 °C for 3 h; and (c) Recalcitrant Pool (RP), the unhydrolyzed residue. The average proportion of LP I in crops and grasses was 59%, which was the same as the proportion of DPM defined in the RothC as the default value for crops and grasses. The remaining 41% (23% LP II+18% RP) was consequently the same as the RPM proportion defined in the RothC. Similarly, the average proportion of LP I in all tree leaves (19%) was very close to the proportion of DPM in the RothC (20%) for trees. These results indicate that DPM in the RothC can be identified as LP I from the acid hydrolysis analysis and RPM as LP II+RP. We conclude that, at least theoretically, the use of an independent DPM:RPM ratio, as determined by acid hydrolysis analysis for each plant material, should enable more reliable modeling of SOM dynamics than the use of default DPM:RPM values provided by the model, even though the practical advantages of this method require further evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)812-816
Number of pages5
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Apr
Externally publishedYes


  • DPM
  • Litter quality
  • RPM
  • RothC
  • Simulation model
  • Soil organic matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Soil Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Acid hydrolysis to partition plant material into decomposable and resistant fractions for use in the Rothamsted carbon model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this