Plant and Soil

, Volume 253, Issue 2, pp 293–299

Glomalin, an arbuscular-mycorrhizal fungal soil protein, responds to land-use change


    • Microbial Ecology Program, Division of Biological SciencesThe University of Montana
  • Philip W. Ramsey
    • Microbial Ecology Program, Division of Biological SciencesThe University of Montana
  • Sherri Morris
    • Biology DepartmentBradley University
  • Eldor A. Paul
    • Natural Resource Ecology LaboratoryColorado State University

DOI: 10.1023/A:1024807820579

Cite this article as:
Rillig, M.C., Ramsey, P.W., Morris, S. et al. Plant and Soil (2003) 253: 293. doi:10.1023/A:1024807820579


Glomalin is a soil proteinaceous substance produced by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Most of the information available concerning this protein has been collected in relation to its role in soil aggregation. In this study, we explored the distribution of glomalin across soil horizons, decomposition of glomalin, and relationship with soil C and N in an agricultural field, a native forest, and an afforested system. Glomalin was present in A, B, and C horizons in decreasing concentrations. Land-use type significantly affected glomalin concentrations (mg cm−3), with native forest soils having the highest concentrations of the three land-use types in both A and B horizons. In terms of glomalin stocks (Mg ha−1), calculated based on corrected horizon weights, the agricultural area was significantly lower than both afforested and native forest areas. As measured after a 413 day laboratory soil incubation, glomalin was least persistent in the A horizon of the afforested area.. In agricultural soils and native soils, ca. 50% of glomalin was still remaining after this incubation, indicating that some glomalin may be in the slow or recalcitrant soil C fraction. Comparison of glomalin decomposition with CO2-C respired during incubation indicates that glomalin makes a large contribution to active soil organic C pools. Soil C and N were highly correlated with glomalin across all soils and within each land-use type, indicating that glomalin may be under similar controls as soil C. Our results show that glomalin may be useful as an indicator of land-use change effects on deciduous forest soils.

decompositionforest soilglycoproteinsoil carbon storage

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003