Coupled Photochemical-Biological Controls on Organic Matter Turnover

The role of sunlight on the degradation and transformation of organic carbon, particularly in terrestrial environments, is important yet currently enigmatic. Exposure to sunlight—even intermittently—is shown to alter the structure of natural organic matter in soil-sedimentary environments, hence altering subsequent processing by microorganisms. Accordingly, we are interested in undertanding the transformative effects of sunlight on the cycling of terrestrial organic matter, and examine causal links between sunlight exposure and enhanced or diminished bioavailability to microorganisms responsible for transforming terrestrial organic matter to greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide and methane.