- A comparative study of the molecular composition of a grassland soil with adjacent unforested and afforested moorland ecosystems
- Organic Geochemistry
- Volume | Issue number
- 42 | 12
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
On-line thermally assisted hydrolysis and methylation (THM) in the presence of both unlabelled and 13C-labelled tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH) was used to assess the relative contributions of phenolics (lignin, demethylated lignin and non-lignin phenolics) in a peaty gley soil profile beneath an unimproved grassland (LL), from a study site located at Harwood (Northumberland, northeast England, UK). This site also includes an unforested moorland (ML) and a second rotation Sitka spruce stand (SS). The common lignin proxies have been corrected for contributions of non-lignin phenols and demethylated lignin in the LL ecosystem and then compared with those from the ML and SS ecosystems. The phenolic compositions from the contributory vegetation inputs (i.e. grasses, heather and Sitka spruce) to all three soils (LL, ML and SS) were also analysed. By using 13C-labelled TMAH it was possible to show that the chemical composition of soil organic matter (SOM) reflected the different vegetation inputs in each of the L/F layers but these characteristics were lost from the deeper organic and mineral layers. Similar changes in the yield of lignin monomers (Λ) with increasing soil depth were displayed in the LL soil profile as reported previously in the ML soil in that no maxima were observed in these amount-depth profiles. The tannin input to the LL soil is low and as a consequence, unlike the ML and SS soils, there is no progressive decrease in the amounts of these non-lignin phenolics with increasing depth. Finally the methylated carbohydrate derivatives (MC) become more abundant relative to the phenolics with increasing soil depth in all three ecosystems (LL, ML and SS).
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