, Volume 198, Issue 1, pp 97-107

A survey of soils for aggregate stability and glomalin, a glycoprotein produced by hyphae of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi

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Understanding the contributions of soil microorganisms to soil stabilization at the molecular level will lead to ways to enhance inputs for sustainable agricultural systems. Recent discoveries of copious production of glycoprotein (glomalin) by arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi and the apparent recalcitrance of this material in soils led to the comparison between concentration of glomalin and aggregate stability. Stability was measured on air-dried aggregates rewetted by capillary action and then subjected to wet sieving for 10 min. Thirty-seven samples from four geographic areas of the U.S. and one area of Scotland were tested. The monoclonal antibody used to discover glomalin on AM hyphae was employed to assess immunoreactive glomalin on aggregate surfaces by immunofluorescence and in extracts from aggregates by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Immunofluorescence was observed on at least some surfaces of aggregates from all soils examined, but was most evident on aggregates with high glomalin concentrations. Easily extractable glomalin (EEG) was solubilized by 20 mM citrate, pH 7.0 at 121 °C for 30 min, and total glomalin (TG) was solubilized with 50 mM citrate, pH 8.0 at 121 °C for 90 to 450 min. Some soils required up to seven sequential extractions to remove all of the glomalin. Aggregate stability was linearly correlated (p < 0.001) with all measures of glomalin (mg/g of aggregates) in these soils. The best predictor of aggregate stability (AS) was immunoreactive easily extractable glomalin (IREEG) according to the following relationship: AS = 42.7 +61.3 × log10 IREEG (r2 = 0.86; p <0.001, n = 37).