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Autoclaving kills soil microbes yet soil enzymes remain active

Carter, D., Yellowlees, D. and Tibbett, M. (2007) Autoclaving kills soil microbes yet soil enzymes remain active. Pedobiologia, 51. pp. 295-299. ISSN 0031-4056

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.pedobi.2007.05.002


Biocidal treatment of soil is used to remove or inhibit soil microbial activity, and thus provides insight into the relationship between soil biology and soil processes. Chemical (soil pH, phosphodiesterase, protease) and biological (substrate induced respiration) characteristics of three contrasting soils from tropical savanna ecosystems in north Queensland, Australia were measured in field fresh samples and following autoclaving (121 °C/103 kPa for 30 min on two consecutive days). Autoclaving treatment killed the active soil microbial biomass and significantly decreased protease activity (∼90%) in all three soils. Phosphodiesterase activity in kaolinitic soils also significantly decreased by 78% and 92%. However, autoclave treatment of smectitic soil only decreased phosphodiesterase activity by 4% only. This study demonstrates phosphodiesterase can remain stable in extreme conditions. This might be a characteristic vital to the cycling of phosphorus in shrink–swell clays in Australian tropical savanna ecosystems.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Sustainable Land Management > Centre for Agri-environmental Research (CAER)
ID Code:45371

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