J Plant Ecol ›› 2018, Vol. 11 ›› Issue (4): 560-568.DOI: 10.1093/jpe/rtx028

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Lignin characteristics in soil profiles in different plant communities in a subtropical mixed forest

Xinggang Wang1,2, Qiuxiang Tian1, Qianxi Li1,2, Chang Liao1,2, Mei He1,2 and Feng Liu1,*   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory of Aquatic Botany and Watershed Ecology, Wuhan Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430074, China; 2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2017-02-06 Accepted:2017-04-14 Published:2018-05-23
  • Contact: Liu, Feng

Abstract: Aims Lignin is generally considered as an important indicator of soil organic carbon (SOC) storage and dynamics. To evaluate the effects of plant communities and soil depth on soil lignin is critical to better understand forest carbon cycling.
Methods We compared lignin content and chemical signature in three soil depths of four major plant communities in a subtropical forest, which located in the north part of Wuling Mountains, China. Lignin was measured using CuO oxidation method.
Important findings Both lignin content and its biochemical signature in plant litter varied among communities. However, these differences were mostly no longer exist in the upper soil layers. Lignin chemistry in soils inherited some of the biochemical signature of lignin in litter, but in a diminished magnitude. These results suggest that different plant communities had similar decomposition process with varying rates, caused diminished differences in lignin content and its biochemical signature. Lignin content decreased with soil depth, but the biochemical signature of lignin was not significantly different among soil layers for all communities, which suggests that vertical movement of lignin within the soil profile is very likely a key process causing this similar biochemical signature. These results emphasized the important roles of lignin inputs and soil eluviation in shaping lignin characteristics and distribution in forest soils, which pinpoint the urgent need to consider hydrological processes in studying forest soil carbon cycling.

Key words: lignin, content, degradation status, plant communities; soil profile, soil carbon

摘要:
Aims Lignin is generally considered as an important indicator of soil organic carbon (SOC) storage and dynamics. To evaluate the effects of plant communities and soil depth on soil lignin is critical to better understand forest carbon cycling.
Methods We compared lignin content and chemical signature in three soil depths of four major plant communities in a subtropical forest, which located in the north part of Wuling Mountains, China. Lignin was measured using CuO oxidation method.
Important findings Both lignin content and its biochemical signature in plant litter varied among communities. However, these differences were mostly no longer exist in the upper soil layers. Lignin chemistry in soils inherited some of the biochemical signature of lignin in litter, but in a diminished magnitude. These results suggest that different plant communities had similar decomposition process with varying rates, caused diminished differences in lignin content and its biochemical signature. Lignin content decreased with soil depth, but the biochemical signature of lignin was not significantly different among soil layers for all communities, which suggests that vertical movement of lignin within the soil profile is very likely a key process causing this similar biochemical signature. These results emphasized the important roles of lignin inputs and soil eluviation in shaping lignin characteristics and distribution in forest soils, which pinpoint the urgent need to consider hydrological processes in studying forest soil carbon cycling.