Immediate and long-term effect of tannins on the stabilization of soil aggregates

Erktan, Amandine; Balmot, Joan; Merino-Martin, Luis; Monnier, Yogan; Pailler, Francois; Coq, Sylvain; Abiven, Samuel; Stokes, Alexia; Le Bissonnais, Yves. 2017 Immediate and long-term effect of tannins on the stabilization of soil aggregates. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 105. 197-205.

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Soil aggregates are organomineral associations with a fundamental importance for soil structure and function. Litter from vegetation alters aggregate formation and stability, and polyphenols such as tannins found in leaves, roots and wood play an important role in soil biogeochemical and biological processes. However, the effect of tannins on soil physical properties remains largely unexplored. We hypothesized that tannins influence aggregate stability through their ability to (i) complex proteins in the soil and (ii) perturb the gelling property of root mucilage. Therefore, Mediterranean soil aggregates were incubated with condensed tannins, either as a pure substrate or in combination with a standard protein (bovine serum albumin, BSA) and with a model root mucilage polysaccharide (polygalacturonic acid, PGA) able to form gel-like structures with divalent cations (notably Ca2+) widely present in Mediterranean calcareous soils. The changes in aggregate stability were monitored under controlled conditions, immediately after the addition of tannins, after 2 weeks, 3 and 6 months of incubation. Tannins added alone did not yield a significant effect on aggregate stability. However, modulatory effects were found when combinations of treatments occurred. Tannins positively modulated the stabilizing effect of the BSA, giving credit to our hypothesis on the stabilizing role of the tannin-protein complex forming macromolecules, thus enforcing soil particle cohesion within aggregates. However, tannins negatively altered the stabilizing effect of PGA, suggesting that the expected perturbation of the PGA gelation occurred, with detrimental consequences for aggregate stability. Over time, tannins maintained the effect of BSA, suggesting a protective effect of tannins, possibly linked to their ability to slow down the degradation of nitrogen compounds through protein binding. Overall, we showed that tannins reacted with other organic compounds resulting in specific effects on physical soil properties, thus demonstrating that tannins in soils play a role beyond their effects on biogeochemical aspects.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Acreman
ISSN: 0038-0717
Additional Keywords: soil organic matter, soil erosion, Mediterranean soil, soil physical property, ecological succession, polyphenols
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Date made live: 14 Dec 2016 12:48 +0 (UTC)

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