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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - SYMPOSIUM PAPERS

Characterization of High-Tannin Fractions from Humus by Carbon-13 Cross-Polarization and Magic-Angle Spinning Nuclear Magnetic Resonance


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 31 No. 2, p. 431-436
    Received: June 2, 2000

    * Corresponding author(s): lorenzk@uni-hohenheim.de
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  1. Klaus Lorenz *a and
  2. Caroline M. Prestonb
  1. a Institute of Soil Science, University of Hohenheim, Emil-Wolff-Str. 27, D-70593 Stuttgart, Germany
    b Pacific Forestry Centre, Natural Resources Canada, 506 West Burnside Rd., Victoria, BC, V8Z 1M5 Canada


Condensed tannins can be found in various parts of many plants. Unlike lignin there has been little study of their fate as they enter the soil organic matter pool and their influence on nutrient cycling, especially through their protein-binding properties. We extracted and characterized tannin-rich fractions from humus collected in 1998 from a black spruce [Picea mariana (Mill.) Britton et al.] forest in Canada where a previous study (1995) showed high levels (3.8% by weight) of condensed tannins. A reference tannin purified from black spruce needles was characterized by solution 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) as a pure procyanidin with mainly cis stereochemistry and an average chain length of four to five units. The colorimetric proanthocyanidin (PA) assay, standardized against the black spruce tannin, showed that both extracted humus fractions had higher tannin contents than the original humus (2.84% and 11.17% vs. 0.08%), and accounted for 32% of humus tannin content. Consistent with the results from the chemical assay, the aqueous fraction showed higher tannin signals in the 13C cross-polarization and magic-angle spinning (CPMAS) NMR spectrum than the emulsified one. As both tannin-rich humus fractions were depleted in N and high in structures derived from lignin and cutin, they did not have properties consistent with recalcitrant tannin–protein complexes proposed as a mechanism for N sequestration in humus. Further studies are needed to establish if tannin–protein structures in humus can be detected or isolated, or if tannins contribute to forest management problems observed in these ecosystems by binding to and slowing down the activity of soil enzymes.

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Copyright © 2002. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.31:431–436.