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Using enzymes to link soil structure and microbial community function in a prairie chronosequence

by 1979- Fansler, Sarah J.

Abstract (Summary)
by Sarah J. Fansler, MS Washington State University August 2004 Chair: Jeffery L. Smith Recently attention has focused on the potential of using soil as a sink for atmospheric CO2. The objective of this study was to use soil enzymes and classical methods of soil aggregate fractionation to explore the relationship between microbial community function and soil structure of a tallgrass prairie chronosequence. The soils within the chronosequence were: (1) remnant native prairie, (2) agricultural soil, and (3, 4) tallgrass prairies restored from agriculture in 1979 and 1993. ?-glucosidase (E.C. 3.2.1.21) and N- acetyl-?-glucosaminidase (NAGase, EC 3.2.1.30) assays were conducted on four different aggregate size fractions ( > 2 mm, 1 -2 mm, 250µm-1 mm, and 2 - 250 µm) from each soil. Specific activities for both enzymes (µg PNP g-1 soil h-1) were greatest in the microaggregate (2 µm -250 µm) fractions across the chronosequence; however, this size fraction makes up only a small proportion of the whole soil. Therefore, it is the larger macroaggregate-derived enzyme activities that have the greatest impact on the activity of iv the whole soil. Analyzing both enzymes and the physical structure, a reversion from an agricultural soil through the restored to more like the prairie soil, was not detected. It appears that the function of these microbial community systems in the native tallgrass prairie and agricultural soils of the chronosequence are in equilibria while the lands restored to tallgrass prairie are in an ongoing state of recovery. v
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School:Washington State University

School Location:USA - Washington

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:soil enzymology chronosequences carbon sequestration greenhouse gas mitigation prairies

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