Plant and Soil

, Volume 354, Issue 1–2, pp 21–39 | Cite as

The significance of D-amino acids in soil, fate and utilization by microbes and plants: review and identification of knowledge gaps

  • Valerie Vranova
  • Helena Zahradnickova
  • Dalibor Janous
  • Keith R. Skene
  • Avtar S. Matharu
  • Klement Rejsek
  • Pavel Formanek
Review Article



D-amino acids are far less abundant in nature than L-amino acids. Both L- and D-amino acids enter soil from different sources including plant, animal and microbial biomass, antibiotics, faeces and synthetic insecticides. Moreover, D-amino acids appear in soil due to abiotic or biotic racemization of L-amino acids. Both L- and D-amino acids occur as bound in soil organic matter and as “free“ amino acids dissolved in soil solution or exchangeably bound to soil colloids. D-amino acids are mineralized at slower rates compared to the corresponding L-enantiomers. Plants have a capacity to directly take up “free“ D-amino acids by their roots but their ability to utilize them is low and thus D-amino acids inhibit plant growth.


The aim of this work is to review current knowledge on D-amino acids in soil and their utilization by soil microorganisms and plants, and to identify critical knowledge gaps and directions for future research.


Assessment of “free“ D-amino acids in soils is currently complicated due to the lack of appropriate extraction procedures. This information is necessary for consequent experimental determination of their significance for crop production and growth of plants in different types of managed and unmanaged ecosystems. Hypotheses on occurrence of “free“ D-amino acids in soil are presented in this review.


Soil D-amino acids Input Microorganisms Mineralization Racemization Uptake Extraction Plant growth Derivatization 



This text was created within the framework of the Grant MSM6215648902 (part 4/2/2) and the IGA Project 47/2010-2012.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valerie Vranova
    • 1
  • Helena Zahradnickova
    • 2
  • Dalibor Janous
    • 4
  • Keith R. Skene
    • 5
  • Avtar S. Matharu
    • 3
  • Klement Rejsek
    • 1
  • Pavel Formanek
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geology and Soil Science, Faculty of Forestry and Wood TechnologyMendel University in BrnoBrnothe Czech Republic
  2. 2.Department of Analytical Biochemistry, Institute of Entomology, Biology Centre, v.v.i.Academy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicCeske Budejovicethe Czech Republic
  3. 3.Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence, Department of ChemistryUniversity of YorkYorkUK
  4. 4.CzechGlobe—Global Change Research Centre AS CR, v.v.i.Brnothe Czech Republic
  5. 5.Biosphere Research InstituteAngusUK

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