Letter | Published:

Soil Humic Acid as a Hydroxypolystyrene: A Biochemical Hypothesis

Naturevolume 207pages604605 (1965) | Download Citation



THE stable humic acid of soil has an unknown chemical structure; it is considered to be a complex phenolic polymer formed from unknown biological precursors1. This article presents the hypothesis that hydroxystyrenes formed under natural conditions may play an important part in forming soil humic acid. This concept followed on the finding that hydroxystyrenes are produced during bacterial decarboxylation of certain phenolic acids of plant origin (4-hydroxycinnamic acids)2 and the realization that soil humic acid in many of its described properties resembles oxidized polystyrenes.

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  1. Western Regional Research Laboratory, Western Utilization Research and Development Division, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Albany, California



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