Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New discoveries show biological formation of oxygen in soils

In the 1930s, the ability of green plants to form oxygen through oxidation of water–photosynthesis was discovered.

Since then, no other large-scale biological formation of oxygen has been found, until now. New research results show that down in the dark depths of the soil, a previously unknown biochemical process is under way, in which oxygen is formed and carbon dioxide is reduced to organic material.

“The results show that there is a highly unexpected biochemical process going on in forest-, agricultural- and grassland soils. This is knowledge that should be possible to apply in our continued work on reducing the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and countering the greenhouse effect,” says Professor Siegfried Fleischer of Halmstad University, who initiated the study “Dark Oxidation of Water in Soils”, which was just recently published in Tellus B: Chemical and Physical Meteorology.

The discovery is a consequence of a research track that, from the beginning, was not in line with current views of the soil ecosystem. Professor Fleischer stumbled across the phenomenon when he studied nitrification, an oxygen-consuming process in the ground. The consumption of oxygen was expected to increase when ammonia was supplied, but analyses in the laboratory rather showed that more oxygen was being produced. When the experiment was repeated, this “anomaly” showed up again and again. This new, unequivocal pattern in the results indicated the need for a new concept. Professor Fleischer took up the challenge.

He made the assumption that the bewildering result could be explained if water, which is present everywhere, contributes to reducing carbon dioxide to organic material down in the dark depths of the soil. The fact that this process takes place without sunlight, as is the case with plants, was however something completely outside current knowledge and accepted views. Professor Fleischer, however, went further, with this as his working hypothesis.

One way of getting nearer the problem was working with isotope-labelled water (H218O), thus revealing if the oxygen formed really did come from water. A few years ago, therefore, Professor Fleischer contacted researchers at the Division of Nuclear Chemistry at Chalmers University, where the right equipment could be found, and later also with a specialist at the energy company Vattenfall. The research group was able to show that the oxygen formed came from water in the soil, and that the water was oxidised biologically.

An international assessment of the scientific research, carried out at Halmstad University in 2013, called the results “potentially ground-breaking”.

Professor Fleischer conducted the five-year project in collaboration with Lovisa Bauhn and Arvid Ödegaard-Jensen of the Division of Nuclear Chemistry at Chalmers University, and Patrik Fors at Vattenfall.

For more information, contact Professor Siegfried Fleischer, tel. 070-655 13 63, 035-16 77 66; e-mail:

Pressofficer Lena Lundén, +46-73 241 74 43,

Weitere Informationen: Link to the report “Dark Oxidation of Water in Soils”

Lena Lundén | idw
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>