Dynamics of tannin variations in mangrove leaf litter decomposition and their effects on environmental nitrogen and microbial activity

Tao Lang, Xinran Ke, Jian Wei, Muzammil Hussain, Mingdang Li, Changjun Gao, Mingguo Jiang, Yibing Wang, Yijian Fu, Kunhua Wu, Wenyan Zhang, Nora Fung yee Tam, Haichao Zhou

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Tannins play vital roles in regulating ecological processes in mangrove forests. However, how tannins affect nitrogen (N) cycling and microbial metabolism in mangrove ecosystems remains largely unexplored. In this study, we hypothesized the types and amounts of tannins released into seawater and sediments during leaf litter decomposition differed among mangrove plant species, thus their effects on N and microbial metabolism also varied. The alterations of tannins, and environmental N and microbial metabolism during leaf litter decomposition of Kandelia obovata, Avicennia marina, and Sonneratia apetala were evaluated by a microcosm-simulated tidal system. Results showed that total polyphenols (TPs) in seawater treated with K. obovata litter were significantly higher than those in A. marina and S. apetala treatments, although the trends of TP changes elicited an initial increase followed by a decrease during decomposition. The dynamic changes in TPs reduced the seawater N concentrations in K. obovata treatment but not in A. marina and S. apetala treatments. The results of microbial metabolism analysis revealed that leaf litter significantly increased microbial metabolic activities and diversities. The types of carbon sources utilized by sediment microorganisms differed among treatments, with the microbes in S. apetala and A. marina litter used more varieties of amino acids, lipids and sugars than those in K. obovata treatment, probably due to the rich amount of hydrolysable tannins (HTs) in the first two species while the last species only contained ondensed tannins (CTs). CTs released from K. obovata leaf litter not only bound nitrogen-containing macromolecular compounds such as amino acids and proteins but also carbohydrates like polysaccharides, which decreased the supply of C and N to sediment microbiota. These results reveal that the release of mangrove tannins during leaf litter decomposition is one of the key factors driving N cycling, and microbial activities and diversities in mangrove wetlands.

Original languageEnglish
Article number168150
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2024


  • Hydrolysable and condensed tannins
  • Leaf litter
  • Mangrove
  • Microorganisms
  • Nitrogen
  • Sediment


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