An extraction method for measuring soil microbial biomass C

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Vance, E. D., Brookes, P. C. and Jenkinson, D. S. 1987. An extraction method for measuring soil microbial biomass C. Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 19 (6), pp. 703-707.

AuthorsVance, E. D., Brookes, P. C. and Jenkinson, D. S.

The effects of fumigation on organic C extractable by 0.5 M K2SO4 were examined in a contrasting range of soils. EC (the difference between organic C extracted by 0.5 M K2SO4 from fumigated and non-fumigated soil) was about 70% of FC (the flush of CO2-C caused by fumigation during a 10 day incubation), meaned for ten soils. There was a close relationship between microbial biomass C, measured by fumigation-incubation (from the relationship Biomass C = FC/0.45) and EC given by the equation: Biomass C = (2.64 ± 0.060) EC that accounted for 99.2% of the variance in the data. This relationship held over a wide range of soil pH (3.9–8.0).

ATP and microbial biomass N concentrations were measured in four of the soils. The ratios were very similar in the four soils, suggesting that both ATP and the organic C rendered decomposable by CHCl3 came from the soil microbial biomass. The C:N ratio of the biomass in a strongly acid (pH 4.2) soil was greater (9.4) than in the three less-acid soils (mean C:N ratio 5.1).

We propose that the organic C rendered extractable to 0.5 m K2SO4 after a 24 h CHCl3-fumigation (EC) comes from the cells of the microbial biomass and can be used to estimate soil microbial biomass C in both neutral and acid soils.


KeywordsRRES175; 175_Soil science
Year of Publication1987
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Journal citation19 (6), pp. 703-707
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Open accessPublished as non-open access
Publication process dates
Accepted20 Mar 1987
Copyright licensePublisher copyright

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