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Lignin and its effects on litter decomposition in forest ecosystems

Rahman, Mohammed Mahabubur, Tsukamoto, Jiro, Rahman, Md. Motiur, Yoneyama, Aogu, Mostafa, Kamal Mohammad
Chemistry in ecology 2013 v.29 no.6 pp. 540-553
analytical methods, carbon, carbon cycle, forest ecosystems, humus, lignin, nitrogen, plant litter, researchers, vegetation
Lignin is a major component of plant litter. In this review, we found lignin comprises a complex class of organic compounds whose concentration differs greatly both between and within plant species. There are many analytical methods for detecting the composition and structure of lignins. As lignins are enormously complex compounds, chemical assay is difficult and different methods vary with the results. Lignin plays a significant role in the carbon cycle, sequestering atmospheric carbon into the living tissues of woody perennial vegetation. It has also great effects on nitrogen dynamics of forest ecosystems as well as other ecological processes. Lignin is one of the most slowly decomposing components of dead vegetation, contributing a major fraction of the material that becomes humus as it decomposes. Lignin is highly correlated with decomposition of litter. Thus, there is evidence that the lignin concentration is a more influential factor than the other chemical concentrations, in determining the rate of leaf litter decomposition of different forest ecosystems. Although a great number of researchers have addressed lignin's role in litter decomposition, still there are many aspects of lignin biogeochemistry that are not known. This lack of information hinders complete amalgam of lignin effects on litter decomposition processes and dynamics of nutrient cycling.