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Interspecific variation in polyphenol production by plants has been interpreted in terms of defense against herbivores. Several recent lines of evidence suggest that polyphenols also influence the pools and fluxes of inorganic and organic soil nutrients. Such effects could have far-ranging consequences for nutrient competition among and between plants and microbes, and for ecosystem nutrient cycling and retention. The significance of polyphenols for nutrient cycling and plant productivity is still uncertain, but it could provide an alternative or complementary explanation for the variability in polyphenol production by plants. Published in Trends in Ecology & Evolution, volume 15, issue 6, on pages 238 - 243, in...
Blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima) is a spinescent shrub occurring in nearly monospecific stands in the southwestern United States. Winter browsing by domestic goats stimulates spring twig production by blackbrush plants. Current season's twigs produced by older branches growing on the outer edges of the plant canopy (terminal branches) contained 2.37 times more tannins than did older twigs. Within blackbrush plants, current season's twigs on terminal branches contained 1.34 times more tannins than did current season's twigs on sprouts and younger branches (basal branches). When analysed separately, current season's terminal twigs contained 1.47 times more tannins than did leaves, while current season's basal twigs...
1 Phenolics are an important, biologically reactive component of the carbon (C) pool that moves from plants to soil. Once in soil, phenolics can regulate plant?soil feedbacks because of their influence on soil nitrogen biogeochemistry. 2 Roots are a largely overlooked potential source of below-ground phenolic C. We examined phenolic fluxes from plants to soil in an alpine ecosystem, where phenolics are associated with slow rates of nutrient cycling. Using a phenolic-rich forb (Acomastylis rossii) and a grass with low tissue phenolics (Deschampsia caespitosa), we asked whether leaves, leaf litter or roots are the dominant source of soil phenolics during the growing season. We also determined whether the composition...