Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Drought-exposed leaves adversely affect soil nutrients, study shows

Date:
April 5, 2011
Source:
Purdue University
Summary:
Chemical changes in tree leaves subjected to warmer, drier conditions that could result from climate change may reduce the availability of soil nutrients, according to a new study.

Jeff Dukes is studying the effects of a changing climate on plants and soils.
Credit: Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell

Chemical changes in tree leaves subjected to warmer, drier conditions that could result from climate change may reduce the availability of soil nutrients, according to a Purdue University study.

Jeff Dukes, an associate professor of forestry and natural resources, found that red maple leaves accumulate about twice as much tannin when exposed to hot, droughtlike conditions. Those tannins, which defend leaves from herbivores and pathogens, were shown to interfere with the function of common enzymes in soil.

"When the leaves are particularly water-stressed by drought or drought with higher temperatures, we see more protective compounds, more tannins and a change in the chemistry of the tannins," said Dukes, whose findings were published in the early online version of the journal New Phytologist. "This suggests that when these leaves fall, they may slow down soil processes such as decomposition and nutrient cycling. This could, in turn, affect plant growth and nutrient uptake."

The findings are the first for the Boston Area Climate Experiment, a National Science Foundation-funded project that Dukes directs. Plants on several field plots are exposed to various future climate scenarios using heaters and other means to control conditions.

"We've basically built a big time machine that moves different plots of land into different possible futures by changing temperatures and precipitation levels," Dukes said.

The increase in leaf tannins observed in this experiment could cause leaves to decompose more slowly and also interfere with critical soil enzymes, leaving fewer nutrients for plants. The tannins in the red maple leaves also were chemically different, making them interact more strongly with the soil enzymes.

Dukes said the tannin issue could effect a sort of tug-of-war in the carbon cycle. With fewer nutrients, plants would take carbon dioxide out of the air more slowly. But if fallen leaves are decomposing slower, then the carbon would be released back to the atmosphere more slowly.

"This is an issue that could affect many natural processes," Dukes said. "We just don't know what the net result will be."

In this experiment, leaves were removed from the experiment plots and tested in laboratories. Dukes said he would next test other plants' leaves exposed to similar conditions to see how their tannins are affected. He also will test his findings in the field to see how an increase in tannins affects soil in a natural setting.

The work was carried out in collaboration Nishanth Tharayil at Clemson University, as well as researchers at Purdue, Clemson University, the University of Massachusetts Boston and Natural Resources Canada.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Purdue University. The original article was written by Brian Wallheimer. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nishanth Tharayil, Vidya Suseela, Daniella J. Triebwasser, Caroline M. Preston, Patrick D. Gerard, Jeffrey S. Dukes. Changes in the structural composition and reactivity of Acer rubrum leaf litter tannins exposed to warming and altered precipitation: climatic stress-induced tannins are more reactive. New Phytologist, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2011.03667.x

Cite This Page:

Purdue University. "Drought-exposed leaves adversely affect soil nutrients, study shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110405151225.htm>.
Purdue University. (2011, April 5). Drought-exposed leaves adversely affect soil nutrients, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110405151225.htm
Purdue University. "Drought-exposed leaves adversely affect soil nutrients, study shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110405151225.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Firefighters Rescue Puppy Stuck in Tire

Raw: Firefighters Rescue Puppy Stuck in Tire

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) It took Houston firefighters more than an hour to free a puppy who got its head stuck in a tire. (Aug. 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) A study published in the journal "Neurology" interviewed more than 19,000 people and found 15 percent suffer from being "sleep drunk." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Great White Shark Spotted Off Massachusetts Coast

Great White Shark Spotted Off Massachusetts Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) A great white shark is spotted off the shore at Duxbury beach in Massachusetts forcing beach goers out of the water. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elk Wanders Into German Office Building

Raw: Elk Wanders Into German Office Building

AP (Aug. 25, 2014) A young bull elk wandered inside the office building of a company in Dresden, Germany on Monday. The elk became trapped between a wall and glass windows while rescue workers tried to rescue him safely. (Aug. 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins