Transport of Phenolic Compounds from Leaf Surface of Creosotebush and Tarbush to Soil Surface by Precipitation
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During the last 100 years, many desert grasslands have been replaced by shrublands. One possible mechanism by which shrubs outcompete grasses is through the release of compounds that interfere with neighboring plants. Our objective was to examine the movement of secondary compounds from the leaf surface of creosotebush and tarbush to surrounding soil surfaces via precipitation. Units consisting of a funnel and bottle were used to collect stemflow, throughfall, and interspace precipitation samples from 20 creosotebush (two morphotypes) and 10 tarbush plants during three summer rainfall events in 1998. Precipitation samples were analyzed for total phenolics (both species) and nordihydroguaiaretic acid (creosotebush only). Phenolics were detected in throughfall and stemflow of both species with stemflow containing greater concentrations than throughfall (0.088 and 0.086 mg/ml for stemflow and 0.022 and 0.014 mg/ml for throughfall in creosotebush morphotypes U and V, respectively; 0.044 and 0.006 mg/ml for tarbush stemflow and throughfall, respectively). Nordihydroguaiaretic acid was not found in any precipitation collections. The results show that phenolic compounds produced by creosotebush and tarbush can be transported to the soil surface by precipitation, but whether concentrations are ecologically significant is uncertain. Nordihydroguaiaretic acid was not present in the runoff from creosotebush.
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