The effects of biocidal treatments on metabolism in soil .2. Gamma-irradiation, autoclaving, air-drying and fumigation

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Powlson, D. S. and Jenkinson, D. S. 1976. The effects of biocidal treatments on metabolism in soil .2. Gamma-irradiation, autoclaving, air-drying and fumigation. Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 8 (3), pp. 179-188.

AuthorsPowlson, D. S. and Jenkinson, D. S.

Respiration and mineralisation of N were measured in a set of contrasting soils that had either been autoclaved, air-dried, fumigated (with chloroform or methyl bromide) or exposed to gamma radiation. The soils used were a manured and an unmanured arable soil, an acid and a neutral woodland soil, an arable sandy soil and an organic soil under grass. With the exception of the acid woodland soil, the flushes of decomposition (i.e. the increases in O2 consumption, CO2 evolution and N mineralisation that occurred when the treated soil was inoculated and incubated for 10 days) were in the order: air-drying < CH3Br ⩽ CHCl3 < irradiation < autoclaving. All of the treatments, except air-drying, decreased the ratio (C mineralised after treatmcnt)/(N mineralised after treatment). All of the treatments increased the amount of 1N K2SO4 extractable organic C, autoclaving causing by far the greatest increase.

Neither of the fumigants increased respiration in the acid soil over the whole 10 day period, although N mineralisation was slightly increased. Irradiation, air-drying and autoclaving did, however, produce a flush in the acid soil, the order being: irradiation < air-drying < autoclaving. A soluble substrate, extracted from yeast cells by ultrasonic disintegration, decomposed to about the same extent in neutral and in acid soil. When 14C labelled glucose was added to the acid soil and incubated for 52 days, the retention of labelled C was slightly greater (31·6%) than in a comparable near-neutral soil (28·8%). However, the flush that followed fumigation of the acid soil was only half that in the near-neutral soil, suggesting that less biomass is formed under acid conditions. Liming increased the size of the flush in an acid soil.

For soils from the same field but under different management, the size of the flush caused by CHCl3 is in the order: grassland > cropped arable > bare fallow. The flush is much more sensitive to differences in soil management than is the total amount of soil organic matter; a fallowed soil lost half its organic C in 10 yr whereas the increase in respiration that followed fumigation fell to one-seventh its original value. Two Nigerian soils behaved similarly; a soil that had been 2 years under cultivation contained only 16% less total organic C than an adjacent soil still under secondary forest, yet the flush in the cultivated soil was half that in the forest soil. The amount of substrate metabolised during the flush is thus very sensitive to changes in soil management that alter the amount of fresh organic matter entering the soil each year.

Year of Publication1976
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Journal citation8 (3), pp. 179-188
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1016/0038-0717(76)90002-x
Open accessPublished as non-open access
Output statusPublished
Publication process dates
Accepted13 Aug 1975
Copyright licensePublisher copyright

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