TitleCarbohydrates protect protein against abiotic fragmentation by soil minerals.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsReardon PN, Walter ED, Marean-Reardon CL, Lawrence CW, Kleber M, Washton NM
JournalSci Rep
Date Published2018 Jan 16

The degradation and turnover of soil organic matter is an important part of global carbon cycling and of particular importance with respect to attempts to predict the response of ecosystems to global climate change. Thus, it is important to mechanistically understand the processes by which organic matter can be degraded in the soil environment, including contact with reactive or catalytic mineral surfaces. We have characterized the outcome of the interaction of two minerals, birnessite and kaolinite, with two disaccharides, cellobiose and trehalose. These results show that birnessite reacts with and degrades the carbohydrates, while kaolinite does not. The reaction of disaccharides with birnessite produces Mn(II), indicating that degradation of the disaccharides is the result of their oxidation by birnessite. Furthermore, we find that both sugars can inhibit the degradation of a model protein by birnessite, demonstrating that the presence of one organic constituent can impact abiotic degradation of another. Therefore, both the reactivity of the mineral matrix and the presence of certain organic constituents influence the outcomes of abiotic degradation. These results suggest the possibility that microorganisms may be able to control the functionality of exoenzymes through the concomitant excretion of protective organic substances, such as those found in biofilms.

Alternate JournalSci Rep
PubMed ID29339803
PubMed Central IDPMC5770415