Mineralization, Solubilization and Biomass Incorporation of 13C -Labelled Lignin Incubated with Soil under Laboratory Conditions.
H. Bahri1, M.-F. Dignac1, C. Rumpel1, D. P Rasse1, C. Lapierre2, G. Bardoux1, A. Mariotti1, and C. Chenu1. (1) UMR Biogeochimie des Milieux Continentaux, INRA-CNRS-UPMC, Bldg EGER, Thiverval-Grignon, 78850, France, (2) UMR Chimie Biologique INRA-INAPG, Thiverval Grignon, 78850, France
Chemical recalcitrance of specific molecules is one of the factors governing organic matter stabilization in soils. Little is known about the relationship between the chemical nature and the dynamics of soil organic matter at the long-term scale. Lignin molecules are abundant in plant tissues and are generally considered as slowly biodegradable in soils. In a previous study, using compound specific isotopic tracer techniques applied to agricultural lands converted from C3 to C4 cropping, we showed that lignin turnover was faster than that of total organic carbon. Lignin dynamics was well described by a two-pool model, distinguishing lignins in fresh plant residues and those more closely associated to the soil matrix. These two pools may be transformed into non-lignin products, which includes CO2, microbial biomass and chemical substances, which are no longer recognized as lignin derivatives. The aim of the present work was to study the nature and dynamics of these non lignin products formed during lignin degradation in a laboratory incubation of 13C-labelled lignin with soil. Maize plants were grown for 1 month under 13C enriched CO2. The lignins of leaves and stems were isolated after treatment with cellulolytic enzymes and solubilization in dioxane:water (1:9). The Milled Maize Lignin (MML) obtained had a 13C abundance of 1.4 %. Solid-state 13C NMR spectroscopy of MML before analysis showed that the isolation method produces a lignin-cellulose complex, as indicated by the presence of some polysaccharides (the 60-115 ppm region represented about 40 % of total C of isolated lignins). Lignins were incubated with soil (1 mg lignin/g soil) at 20°C in sealed glass jars and analyzed after 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 and 48 weeks. A control sample was incubated without lignin. We monitored the mineralization, solubilization and incorporation in the microbial biomass of lignin C by measuring 13C enrichments in respired CO2, water-soluble fractions, and fumigated biomass, respectively. Lignins remaining in incubated soils were quantified by CuO oxidation and the 13C contents of vanillyl, syringyl and cinnamyl units (VSC) were measured. After 4 months, 3% of the 13C of the labelled lignin was mineralized. This mineralization rate was less than that found by Martin and Haider (1979) for DHP lignins but more than the 5% per year found in situ by Dignac et al. (2005). Less than 0.5% of incubated lignin C was water soluble and 0.5 % was incorporated into the soil microbial biomass. The main part (96%) of incubated MML remained in soil. We used compound-specific isotopic analysis of the CuO oxidation products and pyrolysis analysis to estimate the proportion of intact lignins remaining in the soil.