The cultivation of Jatropha curcas L. as a biodiesel feedstock has been encouraged in Senegal to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate the effects of climate change. J. curcasis is a poisonous plant which sheds its leaves during the dry season. Although the leaves are toxic for animals, they can help to recycle soil organic matter. This study set out to determine the effect of the decomposition dynamics of green and senescent J. curcas leaves on the soil C and N contents and on the structure of the bacterial community. Leaf litter decomposition was studied for 4 months by laboratory incubation and samples were taken at the start of incubation and at 3, 28, 56, 90 and 120 days. Green leaves had a higher N content, higher concentrations of water soluble compounds and hemicelluloses, but a lower C:N ratio and lignin content than senescent leaves regardless of the cultivar. The cultivar, the type of litter and the interaction between them, all had a significant effect on the soil N content (p<0.0001, R2=0.995) and C:N ratio (p<0.0001, R2=0.998). However, the cultivar was the only factor that affected the leaf C content (p<0.05, R2=0.624). The initial N content explained the N-NH4+ mineralization at the start of decomposition and the initial lignin content explained the N-NH4+ mineralization at later stages of decomposition. The recalcitrant C content in the green leaves was estimated as being between 70.01 and 73.33% of the total C content and between 72 and 77.33% in senescent leaves. This suggests that Jatropha litter may contribute significantly to soil C sequestration. The results indicate that the soil had higher bacterial diversity in the later stages of litter decomposition, for both types of litter and all cultivars.
Key words: Jatropha curcas L., leaf litter, nitrogen mineralization, carbon mineralization, bacterial community, polymerase chain reaction denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (PCR-DGGE), Senegal.
Copyright © 2022 Author(s) retain the copyright of this article.
This article is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0