The adenylate energy-charge of the soil microbial biomass

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Brookes, P. C., Tate, K. R. and Jenkinson, D. S. 1983. The adenylate energy-charge of the soil microbial biomass. Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 15 (1), pp. 9-16.

AuthorsBrookes, P. C., Tate, K. R. and Jenkinson, D. S.

A method was developed for measuring adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP), adenosine 5'-diphosphate (ADP) and adenosine 5'-monophosphate (AMP) in soil. All three adenine nucleotides were extracted from soil with a solution of trichloroacetic acid, paraquat and phosphate. ATP was measured in the neutralised (pH 7.4) soil extracts by the fire-fly luciferin-luciferase system. ADP was measured as ATP after incubating the neutralised extracts with pyruvate kinase (PK) and phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP) to convert ADP to ATP. AMP was converted to ATP by incubation with the coupled PK-PEP-myokinase system and measured as ATP. The quantities of nucleotides present in the extracts were corrected for incomplete extraction from soil by measuring the percentage recovery of added ATP, ADP and AMP. The adenylate energy charge (AEC) was calculated from the formula AEC = [[ATP] + 0.5[ADP]]/[[ATP] + [ADP] + [AMP]]. Measurements were made on (1) fresh soil, extracted as soon as possible after field sampling (2) soil stored air-dry at 5°C for 18 days and (3) soil stored air-dry at 5°C for 57 days and then rewetted to the original field moisture content and incubated aerobically for 2.5 h at 10°C before extraction.

In moist soil the biomass maintains both ATP and AEC at levels close to those of activity growing cells, even though little of the biomass in soil can be in active growth at any given time. ATP accounted for 77% of the total adenine nucleotides (AT) in the fresh soil, with an AEC of 0.85 (a value comparable to that found in microorganisms undergoing active growth in vitro. In contrast, ATP only accounted for 28% of AT in the air-dried soil, with an AEC of 0.46. When the air-dried soil was rewetted, ATP increased to 66% of AT and the AEC increased to 0.76. However, AT in the air-dried soil (7.65 nmol g−1 soil) was of the same order as that in rewetted soil (6.70 nmol g−1) even though the AEC's were very different.

These results show that the soil microbial biomass does not maintain a high AEC when air-dried. Once remoistened, the population tends to restore its AEC to the original value. This restoration occurs so rapidly that it cannot be due to the formation of a new biomass.

Year of Publication1983
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Journal citation15 (1), pp. 9-16
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Open accessPublished as non-open access
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Print01 Jan 1983
Online12 Nov 2002
Publication process dates
Accepted28 Apr 1982
Copyright licensePublisher copyright

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