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Fluorescein diacetate hydrolysis, respiration and microbial biomass in freshly amended soils


The hydrolysis of the fluorescein diacetate (FDA), related to several soil hydrolases, has been utilised to estimate the potential microbial activity of soil freshly amended with a wide range of organic amendments and compared to the size and activity of soil microflora, measured by the microbial biomass C (B C) and CO2 evolution, respectively. Three different composting mixtures at different phases of the composting process were added to a semi-arid soil and incubated for 2 months under laboratory conditions. The addition of the organic amendment immediately increased B C and both measures of microbial activity (FDA and CO2 evolution). Highly significant correlations were found between FDA hydrolysis and B C for soil amended with the three composting mixtures (r = 0.81–0.96; P < 0.01), regardless of the origin, composition and degree of stability of the organic amendments. FDA hydrolysis, conversely to CO2 evolution, was unaffected by the disturbance caused by the soil amendment, indicating that the two parameters probably reflect different aspects of soil microbial activity. FDA hydrolysis could serve as an alternative estimation of the microbial biomass in freshly amended soils, despite the disturbance caused by the exogenous organic matter.

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This research was supported by a grant from the Italian Ministry for Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies (MiPAAF), Finalized Project PANDA and the research project Ref. CTM2005-05324 financed by the Spanish Comisión Interministerial de Ciencia y Tecnología (CICYT). Authors would like to thank Mr. Aldo Bertoni for valuable technical support.

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Correspondence to M. A. Sánchez-Monedero.

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Sánchez-Monedero, M.A., Mondini, C., Cayuela, M.L. et al. Fluorescein diacetate hydrolysis, respiration and microbial biomass in freshly amended soils. Biol Fertil Soils 44, 885–890 (2008).

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