The susceptibility of soil enzymes to inhibition by leaf litter tannins is dependent on the tannin chemistry, enzyme class and vegetation history


Author for correspondence:

Daniella J. Triebwasser

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  • By inhibiting soil enzymes, tannins play an important role in soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) mineralization. The role of tannin chemistry in this inhibitory process, in conjunction with enzyme classes and isoforms, is less well understood.
  • Here, we compared the inhibition efficiencies of mixed tannins (MTs, mostly limited to angiosperms) and condensed tannins (CTs, produced mostly by gymnosperms) against the potential activity of β-glucosidase (BG), N-acetyl-glucosaminidase (NAG), and peroxidase in two soils that differed in their vegetation histories.
  • Compared with CTs, MTs exhibited 50% more inhibition of almond (Prunus dulcis) BG activity and greater inhibition of the potential NAG activity in the gymnosperm-acclimatized soils. CTs exhibited lower BG inhibition in the angiosperm-acclimated soils, whereas both types of tannins exhibited higher peroxidase inhibition in the angiosperm soils than in gymnosperm soils. At all of the tested tannin concentrations, irrespective of the tannin type and site history, the potential peroxidase activity was inhibited two-fold more than the hydrolase activity and was positively associated with the redox-buffering efficiency of tannins.
  • Our finding that the inhibitory activities and mechanisms of MTs and CTs are dependent on the vegetative history and enzyme class is novel and furthers our understanding of the role of tannins and soil isoenzymes in decomposition.