Eurasian Soil Science

, Volume 41, Issue 13, pp 1439–1447 | Cite as

Age and activation of microbial communities in soils under burial mounds and in recent surface soils of steppe zone

  • T. S. Demkina
  • T. E. Khomutova
  • N. N. Kashirskaya
  • E. V. Demkina
  • I. V. Stretovich
  • G. I. El-Registan
  • V. A. Demkin
Soil Biology


Chestnut paleosols buried under steppe kurgans about 4800, 4000, and 2000 years ago and their background analogues were studied in the dry steppe zone on the Volga-Don interfluve. Morphological, chemical, microbiological, biochemical, and radiocarbon studies were performed. Paleoclimatic conditions in the region were reconstructed on the basis of paleosol data. The ages of microbial fractions isolated from the buried and surface soils were determined using the method of 14C atomic mass-spectrometry. It reached 2100 years in the A1 horizon of the buried paleosol, which corresponded to the archaeological age of the kurgan (1st century AD). The ages of microbial biomass isolated from the B2 horizons of the buried paleosol and the background surface soil comprised 3680 ± 35 and 3300 ± 30 years, respectively. The obtained data confirmed our assumption about preservation of microorganisms of the past epochs in the paleosols buried under archaeological monuments. It is ensured by various mechanisms of adaptation of soil microbial communities to unfavorable environmental conditions (anabiosis, transformation of bacteria into nanoforms, etc.). The possibility to stimulate germination of the ancient dormant microbial pool isolated from the buried paleosols by 2–3 orders of magnitude with the use of β-indolyl-3-acetic acid as a signal substance was demonstrated.


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Copyright information

© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. S. Demkina
    • 1
  • T. E. Khomutova
    • 1
  • N. N. Kashirskaya
    • 1
  • E. V. Demkina
    • 2
  • I. V. Stretovich
    • 1
  • G. I. El-Registan
    • 2
  • V. A. Demkin
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems of Soil ScienceRussian Academy of SciencesPushchino, Moscow oblastRussia
  2. 2.Vinogradskii Institute of MicrobiologyRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia

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