Distribution of monoterpenes between organic resources in upper soil horizons under monocultures of Picea abies, Picea sitchensis and Pinus sylvestris

Ludley, Katherine E.; Jickells, Sue M.; Chamberlain, Paul M.; Whitaker, Jeanette ORCID:; Robinson, Clare H.. 2009 Distribution of monoterpenes between organic resources in upper soil horizons under monocultures of Picea abies, Picea sitchensis and Pinus sylvestris. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 41 (6). 1050-1059.

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The aim of this study was to compare the monoterpene content and distribution in litters and roots of three conifer species: Picea abies (L.) Karst, Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carr. and Pinus sylvestris (L.). We analysed the monoterpene content of green needles, needle litter, F (fermentation) layer material and roots collected from monoculture plots. The rate of loss of monoterpenes from freshly fallen litter in the field was also studied at two monthly intervals over 10 months, to assess the length of time that monoterpenes entering the litter layer remain. Monoterpene analysis was carried out by extracting homogenised samples in hexane and identifying and quantifying the resulting monoterpenes using gas chromatography with flame ionisation detection (GC–FID) and gas chromatography-mass chromatography (GC–MS). Mean total monoterpene concentrations varied significantly between the three species examined (e.g. in freshly fallen litter 1531 96, 100 5 and 1175 122 mg g1 d. wt for P. abies, P. sitchensis and P. sylvestris); each species had distinctive and consistent monoterpene profiles associated with each type of tissue, and total monoterpene concentrations in green needles varied between individual trees of the same species, particularly for P. sitchensis. A substantial proportion of the monoterpene content of green needles remained in the needles after litter fall for P. abies (42%), P. sitchensis (11%) and P. sylvestris (30%). Although rates of monoterpene loss from needle litters varied initially (P. sylvestris > P. abies > P. sitchensis), the majority of the monoterpene content was lost after 4–6 months. Maximum monoterpene emission rates from decaying litter were calculated of 39 (P. abies), 1.7 (P. sitchensis) and 39 mg m2 h1 (P. sylvestris). Monoterpene concentrations in F layer material were very low (<10 mg g1 d. wt). Roots, particularly in P. sylvestris, represented a significant pool of monoterpenes (185 16, P. abies; 258 54, P. sitchensis; 2133 200 mg g1 d. wt, P. sylvestris). The monoterpene profile was similar between roots and litter of P. sylvestris (a-pinene most abundant), and for P. sitchensis, (limonene and a-pinene most abundant), although a different pattern was observed between needle litter (most abundant b-pinene) and roots (most abundant myrcene) of P. abies. The relatively high concentrations and different profiles of monoterpenes characterised in upper organic soil horizons here emphasise the need for their influence on soil ecological processes to be assessed.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Shore
ISSN: 0038-0717
Additional Keywords: Coniferous forest soil, Decomposition, Emissions, F horizon Green needles, Needle litter, Pine, Pinene,Roots, Soil organic matter, Spruce, Volatile organic compound
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Biology and Microbiology
Ecology and Environment
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Date made live: 02 Jun 2009 13:12 +0 (UTC)

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