Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The decomposition of organic matter in soils by fungi
Author: Kabuyah, Rachel Tayiana Nyokabi Muito
ISNI:       0000 0004 2733 8204
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2012
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
Macromolecular structures, such as lignin and cellulose, are important components of soil organic carbon, the major terrestrial global carbon pool. The degradation of these macromolecules, including lignin and cellulose, in plant-derived soil organic matter, is important to the global carbon cycle. In grasslands, saprotrophic (decomposer) fungi are major decomposers of such organic material. Some of these compounds, such as lignin are relatively resistant to decay by the microbial community if compared with other compound classes such as cellulose. In this work we investigate the involvement of fungi in the decomposition of both lignin and cellulose and look to link the decomposition processes observed in the field to those observed in a laboratory-controlled environment. The key findings of this work are:- Field based experiments in both tropical and temperate environments indicated that lignin can be degraded completely, most likely by white-rot fungi, as shown by the shifts in the [Ac/Al]S, [Ac/Al]G and [S/G] relative lignin decomposition state proxies. The results confirm that even in a very low carbon environment, fungi are able to completely degrade lignin over time. However, lignin is degraded much faster in tropical environments. Culturing experiments showed that it was possible to isolate a number of fungi present on the degraded wheat straw collected in the field, especially soft-rot fungi. When used in microcosm experiments using a range of organic substrates, the relative lignin decomposition state proxies indicated that Absidia cylindrospora and Trichoderma koningii are not able to completely degrade lignin but preferentially degrade cellulose. Cellulose degradation rates are much higher than those of lignin in degraded field samples over time, confirming previous work.
Supervisor: Robinson, Clare; Van Dongen, Bart Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: lignin ; cellulose ; fungi ; guaiacyl ; syringyl ; decomposition ; grasslands