Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 48, Issue 7, pp 743–762 | Cite as

Soil enzymology: classical and molecular approaches

  • P. Nannipieri
  • L. Giagnoni
  • G. Renella
  • E. Puglisi
  • B. Ceccanti
  • G. Masciandaro
  • F. Fornasier
  • M. C. Moscatelli
  • S. Marinari


It is still problematic to use enzyme activities as indicators of soil functions because: (1) enzyme assays determine potential and not real enzyme activities; (2) the meaning of measured enzyme activities is not known; (3) the assumption that a single enzyme activity is an indicator of nutrient dynamics in soil neglects that the many enzyme activities are involved in such dynamic processes; (4) spatio-temporal variations in natural environments are not always considered when measuring enzyme activities; and (5) many direct and indirect effects make difficult the interpretation of the response of the enzyme activity to perturbations, changes in the soil management, changes in the plant cover of soil, etc. This is the first review discussing the links between enzyme-encoding genes and the relative enzyme activity of soil. By combining measurements of enzyme activity in soil with expression (transcriptomics and proteomics) of genes, encoding the relative enzymes may contribute to understanding the mode and timing of microbial communities’ responses to substrate availability and persistence and stabilization of enzymes in the soil.


Soil enzyme Genes encoding enzymes Soil enzyme activity Enzyme kinetics Gene expression 



The research leading to these results has received funds from the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013 under REA agreement n° 289949 (TRAINBIODIVERSE) and by Ente Cassa di Risparmio (Proteomic approach to better understanding soil functionality and interactions between soil and plant; no. 2009.41).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Nannipieri
    • 1
  • L. Giagnoni
    • 1
  • G. Renella
    • 1
  • E. Puglisi
    • 2
  • B. Ceccanti
    • 3
  • G. Masciandaro
    • 3
  • F. Fornasier
    • 4
  • M. C. Moscatelli
    • 5
  • S. Marinari
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Plant, Soil and Environmental SciencesUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  2. 2.Institute of MicrobiologyUniversità Cattolica del Sacro CuorePiacenzaItaly
  3. 3.Institute for Ecosystem StudiesNational Research CouncilPisaItaly
  4. 4.CRA-RPS Agricultural Research Council—Research Center for Soil-Plant RelationshipsGoriziaItaly
  5. 5.Department for the Innovation in Biological, Agro-Food and Forest Systems, DIBAFUniversity of TusciaViterboItaly

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