Submitted to: Soil Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/30/2004
Publication Date: 9/30/2004
Citation: Fansler, S., Smith, J.L., Bolton, H., Bailey, V.L. 2004. Using enzymes to link soil structure and microbial community function in a prairie chronosequence. Soil Science.
Technical Abstract: The objective of this study was to use soil enzyme activity in aggregate size fractions to explore the relationship between microbial community function and soil structure of a tallgrass prairie chronosequence. The soils within the chronosequence were: (1) native prairie, (2) agricultural soil, and (3, 4) tallgrass prairies restored from agriculture in 1979 and 1993. ß-glucosidase and N-acetyl-ß-glucosaminidase assays were conducted on four different aggregate size fractions (greater than 2 mm, 1-2 mm, 250µm-1 mm, and 2-250 µm) from each soil. Specific activities for both enzymes were greatest in the 2-250 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 the whole soil. A pattern in enzyme activity indicative of a transition from an agricultural soil through the restored, to a more native 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 a state of transition.