Biology and Fertility of Soils

Ratios of microbial biomass estimates to evaluate microbial physiology in soil

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Abstract 
Soil microbial biomass data derived from fumigation–extraction (FE), substrate-induced respiration (SIR) and ATP estimations differed significantly and were significantly correlated, which agrees to previous studies. In a second step, the SIR/FE, ATP/FE and SIR/ATP ratios were calculated to evaluate the glucose-responsive and active component of the microbial (active and resting) biomass and the glucose-responsive component of the active microbiota. Soils were sampled along gradients within and between associated ecosystems in Northern Germany, Denmark and along a gradient of heavy metal pollution in Finland. The ratios indicated that the active portion and glucose-responsive component decreased with proceeding litter decomposition, higher degree of sustainable land management practices and higher degree of heavy metal contamination.

Keywords: ATP content - Fumigation–extraction - Gradient - Indicator - Microbial physiology - Pollution - Soil microbial biomass - Substrate-induced respiration

This work was presented at the workshop ‘Non-molecular manipulation of soil microbial communities’ at the University of Udine, Udine, Italy, 17–20 October 2004; convened by P.C. Brookes and M. De Nobili and supported by European Science Foundation.

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