The study aimed to describe the carbohydrates and amino compounds content in soil, the light fraction (LF), the >53 μm particulate organic matter (POM), and the mobile humic acid (MHA) fraction and to find out whether the carbohydrates and amino compounds can be used to explain the origin of SOM fractions.
Materials and methods
Soil samples were collected from two agricultural fields managed under organic farming in southern Italy. The LF, the POM, and the MHA were sequentially extracted from each soil sample then characterized. Seven neutral sugars and 19 amino compounds (amino acids and amino sugars) were determined in each soil sample and its correspondent fractions.
Results and discussion
The MHA contained less carbohydrate than the LF or the POM but its carbohydrates, although dominated by arabinose, were relatively with larger microbial contribution as revealed by the mannose/xylose ratio. The amino compounds were generally less in the LF or the POM than in the MHA, while the fungal (aspartic and serine) and bacterial (alanine and glycine) amino acids were larger in the MHA than in the LF or the POM, underlining the microbial contribution to the MHA. Results from both sites indicated that total carbohydrates content decreased moving from the LF (younger fraction) to the MHA (older fraction), which seems to follow a decomposition continuum of organic matter in the soil-plant system.
The study showed that the MHA is a labile humified fraction of soil C due to its content of carbohydrates and concluded that the content of carbohydrates and amino compounds in the LF, the POM and the MHA can depict the nature of these fractions and their cycling pattern and response to land management.