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Chemical composition of the organic matter in forest soils the humus layer



Chemical composition of the organic matter in forest soils the humus layer



Zeitschrift fuer Pflanzenernaehrung und Bodenkunde 151(5): 331-340



Decomposition and humification were studied within three types of forest humus (mull, moder, and mor) by means of CPMAS 13C NMR spectroscopy combined with degradative methods. The NMR data show that O-alkyl carbon decreases in all soils, and alkyl as well as carboxyl carbon increase as depth and decomposition increase; the percentage of aromatic carbon remains constant at about 25%. With increasing depth the amount of carbon that can be identified as belonging to specific compound classes by wet chemical methods decreases from 60% to 40%. Microbial polysaccharides and the proportion of non-polysaccharide O-alkyl carbon increase with depth. A selective preservation of recalcitrant, condensed lignin structural units is also observed. In order to relate the spectroscopic and chemical data from investigations of whole soils with studies of humification, samples were fractionated into fulvic acid, humic acid, and humin fractions. The fulvic acid fraction contains large concentrations of carbohydrates irrespective of the soil horizon. The humic acid fraction contains less polysaccharides, but high amounts of alkyl carbon and aromatic structures. The percentage of aromatic carbon existing in the humic acid fraction increases with depth, probably reflecting the amount and degree of oxidative decomposition of lignin. A loss of methoxyl and phenolic groups is evident in the 13C NMR spectra of the humic acid fraction. The humin fraction resembles relatively unchanged plant-derived materials as evident from the lignin parameters and carbohydrate contents. All the observed data seem to indicate that humic acids originate from oxidative degradation of humin or plant litter.

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Accession: 007106438

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DOI: 10.1002/jpln.19881510512


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