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Effects Of Sieving, Storage, And Incubation Temperature On The Phospholipid Fatty Acid Profile Of A Soil Microbial Community

Søren O. Petersen, Michael J. Klug

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Disturbances typically associated with the study of soil microbial communities, i.e., sieving, storage, and subsequent incubation at elevated temperatures, were investigated with phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analyses. Treatment effects were quantified by statistical analyses of the mole percentage distribution of the individual fatty acids. Changes in the concentrations of individual fatty acids over a 7-week storage period at 4.5°C were generally not statistically significant. Sieving effects (mesh size, 4 or 2 mm) on CO 2 evolution and the PLFA profile were monitored over 3 weeks; the physical disturbance had only minor effects, although some damage to fungal hyphae by the first sieving (<4 mm) was suggested by a decrease in the signature fatty acid 18:2 ω6 c . Temperature effects were investigated by incubating soil for up to 3 weeks at 4.5, 10, or 25°C. Principal component analyses demonstrated a significant shift in the PLFA composition at 25°C over the first 2 weeks, while changes at the other two temperatures were minor. Several of the changes observed at 25°C could be explained with reference to mechanisms of temperature adaptation or as a response to conditions of stress, including a decrease in the degree of unsaturation, an increased production of cyclopropyl fatty acids, and increased ratios of the branched-chain fatty acids iso -15:0 and iso -17:0 over anteiso -15:0 and anteiso -17:0, respectively. A decrease in the total amount of PLFA was also indicated.