Canadian Forest Service Publications

Carbon and nitrogen dynamics in a forest soil amended with purified tannins from different plant species. 2004. Kraus, T.E.C.; Zasoski, R.J.; Dahlgren, R.A.; Horwath, W.R.; Preston, C.M. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 36(2): 309-321.

Year: 2004

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 23816

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

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Tannins are purported to be an important factor controlling nitrogen cycling in forest ecosystems, and the ability of tannins to bind proteins in protein–tannin complexes is thought to be the primary mechanism responsible for these effects. In this study, we examined the influence of well-characterized tannins purified from five different plant species on C and N dynamics of a forest soil A horizon. Tannic acid, a commonly used and commercially available hydrolyzable tannin (HT), and cellulose were also included for comparison. With the exception of tannins from huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum), the amendments increased respiration 1.4–4.0 fold, indicating that they were acting as a microbial C source. Tannic acid was significantly more labile than the five purified tannins examined in this study. All treatments decreased net N mineralization substantially, through greater N immobilization and decreased mineralization. The six tannins inhibited gross ammonification rates significantly more than cellulose. This suggests that added tannins had effects in addition to serving as an alternative C source. Tannins purified from Bishop pine (Pinus muricata) were the only tannins that significantly inhibited potential gross nitrification rates, however, rates were low even in the control soil making it difficult to detect any inhibition. Differences in tannin structure such as condensed versus HTs and the hydroxylation pattern of the condensed tannin B-ring likely explain differences observed among the tannin treatments. Contrary to other studies, we did not find that condensed tannins were more labile and less inhibitory than HTs, nor that shorter chained tannins were more labile than longer chained tannins. In addition to supporting the hypothesis that reduced N availability in the presence of tannins is caused by complexation reactions, our data suggests tannins act as a labile C source leading to increased N immobilization.