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Review
, 2015, 825098

The Regulation by Phenolic Compounds of Soil Organic Matter Dynamics Under a Changing Environment

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Review

The Regulation by Phenolic Compounds of Soil Organic Matter Dynamics Under a Changing Environment

Kyungjin Min et al. Biomed Res Int.

Abstract

Phenolics are the most abundant plant metabolites and are believed to decompose slowly in soils compared to other soil organic matter (SOM). Thus, they have often been considered as a slow carbon (C) pool in soil dynamics models. Here, however, we review changes in our concept about the turnover rate of phenolics and quantification of different types of phenolics in soils. Also, we synthesize current research on the degradation of phenolics and their regulatory effects on decomposition. Environmental changes, such as elevated CO2, warming, nitrogen (N) deposition, and drought, could influence the production and form of phenolics, leading to a change in SOM dynamics, and thus we also review the fate of phenolics under environmental disturbances. Finally, we propose the use of phenolics as a tool to control rates of SOM decomposition to stabilize organic carbon in ecosystems. Further studies to clarify the role of phenolics in SOM dynamics should include improving quantification methods, elucidating the relationship between phenolics and soil microorganisms, and determining the interactive effects of combinations of environmental changes on the phenolics production and degradation and subsequent impact on SOM processing.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Chemical structures of several phenolics: phenol (a), the simplest structure of phenolic compound, phenolic acid (gallic acid) (b), and tannin (c).
Figure 2
Figure 2
Various forms of phenolic compounds in soils. A dissolved form (a) where phenolics make multiple hydrogen bonds with water molecules surrounding them. A sorbed form (b) where phenolics are absorbed in soils and may detach from them reversibly through ionic, hydrogen, and hydrophobic bonds. A polymerized form (c) where phenolics consist of humic substances connected with other soil organic matter.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Effects of phenolics on the rate of soil organic matter decomposition.

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