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Diversity Of Anthropogenically Influenced Or Disturbed Soil Microbial Communities

E. Laczko, A. Rudaz, M. Aragno
Published 1997 · Biology

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The objectives of this study are to assess the influences of land use and of heavy metal loads on the soil microbial community. For this purpose we collected soils from 27 sites throughout Switzerland and analyzed saturated, mono- and polyunsaturated PLFAs (phospholipid fatty acids), ATP (total adenylates) and the total content of the heavy metal cadmium. We found a positive correlation between the sum of PLFA and ATP. Further, we found that land use and cadmium load are reflected by PLFA contents. Based on the organismic origin we formed guilds of individual PLFAs. These guilds relate to taxonomic units and trophic function at the same time. Therefore, it is possible to infer the structure (structural diversity) and trophic diversity (functional diversity) of the soil microbial communities. We found a negative correlation between functional diversity and cadmium load. Functional diversity differentiated also land use types. PLFA analysis may reveal structural and functional in situ properties of whole soil microbial communities. Substrate utilization tests, which are restricted to cultivable organisms, predominantly bacteria and fungi, may supplement PLFA analysis with data about specific activities. Finally, our results indicate that PLFA analysis can be used to estimate critical pollutant loads.
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