Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 1–7 | Cite as

Net microbial amino sugar accumulation process in soil as influenced by different plant material inputs

  • Chao Liang
  • Xudong ZhangEmail author
  • Teri C. Balser
Original Paper


Identifying the impact of plant material inputs on soil amino sugar synthesis may advance our knowledge of microbial transformation processes in soils. In a 12-week laboratory microcosm incubation, 1, 2, 4, and 6% (w/w) soybean leaf or maize stalk were initially added to soil, respectively, whereas soil without plant addition was used as a control. The results showed that adding organic materials to the soil led to a net accumulation of amino sugars, because of greater microbial synthesis. The ratios of glucosamine to galactosamine and of glucosamine to muramic acid, two indicators differentiating the relative contribution to soil organic matter of fungi and bacteria, showed substantial variance across the gradient of substrate addition. Our results suggest that the amount of nutrients in a given substrate is the primary attribute determining microbial net accumulation of soil amino sugars, especially in the relatively short term, whereas the composition of nutrients might be more important in the relatively long term when nutrients are not sufficient. The use of the two ratios (glucosamine to galactosamine and glucosamine to muramic acid) reflects different dynamics of galactosamine and muramic acid during the decomposition of organic substrates in soils. Muramic acid, compared with galactosamine, is more likely to accumulate in the soil active organic fraction under abundant nutrient conditions, whereas it would be decomposed along with active organic matter when the nutrients are scarce and remain in minor quantities in the clay fraction without being attacked by microbes.


Amino sugar Organic material Microbial accumulation Soil 



The work was jointly funded by projects from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Project No: kzcx3-sw-433) and the Natural Science Foundation of China (Project No: 40535028). We are grateful to “the Hundreds of Talents Program” entitling to Dr. Zhang, which provided the chance for this research at CAS. In addition, we are grateful to Meredith Schuman for proofreading and to Dr. Teri Balser’s lab for valuable discussion always.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Terrestrial Ecological Process, Institute of Applied EcologyChinese Academy of SciencesShenyangPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Soil ScienceUniversity of Wisconsin–MadisonMadisonUSA

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