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Enzyme Activity In Soil: Location And A Possible Role In Microbial Ecology

R. Burns
Published 1982 · Biology

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Abstract The activity of any particular enzyme in soil is a composite of activities associated with various biotic and abiotic components, e.g. proliferating cells, latent cells, cell debris, clay minerals, humic colloids and the soil aqueous phase. The location of the enzyme is at least partially determined by such factors as the size and solubility of its substrate, the species of microorganism, and the physical and chemical nature of the soil colloids. However, enzymes may change location with time, for example, many hydrolases are intracellular sensu stricto but are also found associated with cell debris and clay and organic colloids. There are difficulties in quantifying the various activities, but this may be possible by employing different types of assays, the prudent use of controls and the study of crude enzyme extracts from soil. Enzymes bound to clay and humic colloids (the immobilized or accumulated enzyme fraction) have a residual activity not found in enzymes free in the soil aqueous phase. However, the mere adsorption of enzymes to soil surfaces does not guarantee subsequent activity, and it appears that some mechanism of association with the humic polymer offers the best form of protection, yet permits the retention of enzyme activity. The catalytic activity of extracellular enzymes is discussed and a possible relationship between soil microorganisms, exogenous substrates and immobilized enzymes is suggested.
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