Plant and Soil

, Volume 76, Issue 1–3, pp 339–347 | Cite as

Influence of soil type, crop and air drying on residual carbohydrate content and aggregate stability after treatment with periodate and tetraborate

  • M. V. Cheshire
  • G. P. Sparling
  • C. M. Mundie
Section 6: Interaction Effects of Organisms, Organic Matter and Management on Soil Structure


The relationship between the water stability of microaggregates and the residual carbohydrate content of soil was examined in 15 soils from 7 soil series under various cultivations. The carbohydrate was progressively removed by increasing the time of treatment with 0.02M periodate and 0.1M tetraborate. The resulting decrease in reducing sugar content was significantly correlated with an increased disruption of microaggregates (>45 μm) as determined by a turbidimetric method. The most effective treatment removed about 80% of the soil carbohydrate and caused an increase of about 75% in the fraction of microaggregates (<45 μm) compared to untreated soil.

15–20 percent of the soil carbohydrate was resistant to oxidation by periodate, even after prolonged reaction times and contained a higher relative proportion of glucose, arabinose, and xylose than the oxidised material. Sugars typical of microbial sources, mannose, galactose, rhamnose and fucose, were therefore preferentially oxidised by the periodate treatment.

The grassland soils generally had higher carbohydrate contents than the arable soils and initially had a greater degree of aggregation. However, periodate oxidation affected each soil in its own characteristic manner. A significant inverse linear relationship between the degree of disruption and the residual sugar content was found with 13 of the 15 soils. Over the range measured aggregate stability was therefore related to the presence of carbohydrate predominantly from microbial sources.

Key words

Aggregation Carbohydrate Crop Drying Periodate oxidation Soil 


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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff/Dr W. Junk Publishers 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. V. Cheshire
    • 1
  • G. P. Sparling
    • 1
  • C. M. Mundie
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Soil Organic Chemistry and MicrobiologyThe Macaulay Institute for Soil ResearchAberdeenScotland

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