Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2019, Vol. 43 ›› Issue (4): 284-295.doi: 10.17521/cjpe.2018.0213

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Origin and distribution of neutral sugars in soils

LIU Cheng-Zhu1,2,JIA Juan1,2,DAI Guo-Hua1,MA Tian1,2,FENG Xiao-Juan1,2,*()   

  1. 1 State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
    2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2018-08-27 Revised:2019-04-18 Online:2019-08-29 Published:2019-04-20
  • Contact: FENG Xiao-Juan ORCID:0000-0002-0443-0628
  • Supported by:
    Supported by the Chinese National Key Development Program for Basic Research(2015CB954201);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(41773067);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(41422304);the International Partnership Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences(151111KYSB20160014)


Carbohydrates are important components of soil organic matter, which can be decomposed to different types of monosaccharides. Neutral monosaccharides in the soil are also called neutral sugars, including xylose, ribose, arabinose, glucose, galactose, mannose, fucose and rhamnose. Among them, plant-derived sugars mainly include pentoses, such as xylose and arabinose, while microbial-derived sugars mainly consist of hexoses including galactose, mannose, fucose and rhamnose. Generally, the ratios of hexoses to pentoses are used to evaluate the contribution of microbial- versus plant-derived sugars. Neutral sugars are the main carbon and energy resources for soil microorganisms and play a vital role in aggregates formation. In this study, we review studies about neutral sugars in soils over the past 30 years and compare different methods for neutral sugar analysis. Furthermore, we compare the distribution patterns and turnover of soil neutral sugars across diverse land-use regimes, different soil density and particle size fractions and their influencing factors. The lowest neutral sugar content is found in arable soils compared with other four land-use types (coniferous forests, deciduous forests, shrublands and grasslands) in terms of absolute and relative contents. No significant difference is observed for the (galactose + mannose)/‍(arabinose + xylose)(GM/AX) ratios across the five land-use regimes. Nevertheless, the ratio of (rhamnose + fucose)/(arabinose + xylose)(RF/AX) indicates that microbially derived neutral sugars are more abundant in the soils of grasslands than coniferous forests or farmlands. The heavy fraction is characterized by an enrichment of microbial neutral sugars but a lower content of total neutral sugars compared to the light fraction. Concerning the distribution of neutral sugars across different soil size fractions (or aggregates), the microbial-derived neutral sugars are more abundant in the clay fraction (or microaggregates). As for the factors affecting neutral sugar content and distribution, many studies have focused on the human disturbances like agriculture and grazing, while the influence of environmental factors such as temperature, precipitation is poorly investigated.

Key words: soil, neutral sugars, origin, distribution, influencing factor

Table 1

Comparison of extraction and detection methods of neutral sugars in soils"

H2SO4 can not be removed easily
Tanaka et al., 1990
会水解一部分纤维素; 产率较低
The hydrolysis products include a few cellulosic neutral sugars; low yields
Uzaki & Ishiwatari,
产率高; 不会破坏单糖结构; 具有挥发性, 可通过旋转蒸发去除; 水解的多糖主要为半纤维素
High yields; Not destructive to monosaccharides; TFA is volatile and can be easily removed by evaporation; Hydrolysis products are mainly released from hemicellulose
Amelung et al., 1996
GC-MS 精度、准确度、敏感性和效率较高
High accuracy, precision, sensibility and efficiency
Derivatization is required
Amelung et al., 1996; Wang et al., 2017
HPLC 无需衍生化; 纯化过程简单
No need for derivatization; Simple purification procedures
Low accuracy, precision, sensibility
and efficiency
Hamada & Ono, 1984; Angers et al., 1988;Tanaka et al., 1990;
HPAEC-PAD 无需衍生化; 应用范围广, 可同时分析糖醛酸和中性糖
No need for derivatization; Wide application and simultaneous analysis of uronic acid and neutral sugars
Low accuracy, precision, sensibility
and efficiency
Bruggink et al., 2005; Zhang et al., 2012

Fig. 1

Content and distribution of neutral sugars across different land-use regimes in the top soils (Nierop et al., 2001; Spielvogel et al., 2007; Eder et al., 2010; Rumpel et al., 2010; Zhao et al., 2014; Conti et al., 2016; Cui et al., 2016; Wang et al., 2016; Creme et al., 2017; Llorente et al., 2017; Evgrafova et al., 2018; Zhu et al., 2018). A, Neutral sugar absolute content. B, Neutral sugar relative content. C, GM/AX ((galactose + mannose)/(arabinose + xylose)). D, RF/AX ((rhamnose + fucose)/(arabinose + xylose)). The upper and lower end of boxes denote the 0.25 and 0.75 percentiles, respectively. The solid bar in the box mark the median of each dataset. The circles indicate outliers of each dataset. Different lowercase letters indicate differences in various land-use regimes (p < 0.05). n = 8, 25, 4, 8, 15 (from deciduous, coniferous, shrub, grassland to crops in the A, C). n = 8, 22, 4, 8, 15 (from deciduous, coniferous, shrub, grassland to crops in the B). n = 3, 19, 4, 8, 27 (from deciduous, coniferous, shrub, grassland to crops in the D). OC, soil organic carbon."

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