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Interactive effects of condensed tannin and cellulose additions on soil respiration

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Plant polyphenolics are receiving increased attention for their influences on belowground processes. Tannins are of particular interest because of their predominance in natural systems, their wide variation in both quality and quantity, and their protein-binding abilities. Current theory holds that simple phenolics increase microbial activity by acting as carbon substrates, while larger tannins decrease microbial activity by binding with organic nitrogen such as proteins. Here, we present results from a simple microcosm experiment that demonstrates that the influence of condensed tannins on soil respiration depends on the availability of additional carbon substrates. We purified tannins from trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) and crossed three levels of tannin additions with three levels of cellulose additions in laboratory microcosms. Soil respiration was measured over 36days. In the absence of cellulose, high amounts of condensed tannins increased cumulative soil respiration. In the presence of abundant cellulose, condensed tannins decreased cumulative soil respiration. The positive and negative effects of purified tannins on soil respiration are time dependent, such that initial respiration is likely tannin induced, while later respiration is cellulose induced and tannin limited.

Les polyphénols végétaux suscitent un intérêt grandissant à cause de leur influence sur les processus du sol. Les tannins sont particulièrement intéressants à cause de leur prédominance dans les systèmes naturels, de leur grande variabilité tant en qualité qu’en quantité et à cause de leur capacité à se lier aux protéines. La théorie courante veut que les composés phénoliques simples augmentent l’activité microbienne en agissant comme source de carbone tandis que les tannins plus volumineux diminuent l’activité microbienne en se liant à l’azote organique comme les protéines. Nous présentons ici les résultats d’une simple expérience en microécosystèmes qui démontrent que l’influence des tannins condensés sur la respiration du sol dépend de la disponibilité de sources additionnelles de carbone. Nous avons purifié des tannins de peuplier faux-tremble (Populus tremuloides Michx.) et combiné trois niveaux d’apport de tannins et trois niveaux d’apport de cellulose dans des microécosystèmes en laboratoire. La respiration du sol a été mesurée pendant 36 jours. En l’absence de cellulose, de fortes quantités de tannins condensés ont augmenté la respiration cumulative du sol. En présence de beaucoup de cellulose, les tannins condensés ont diminué la respiration cumulative du sol. Les effets positifs et négatifs des tannins purifiés sur la respiration du sol sont fonction du temps de telle sorte que la respiration initiale est probablement induite par les tannins tandis que, par la suite, la respiration est induite par la cellulose et limitée par les tannins.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2007

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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