Assessment of the microbial biomass using the content of phospholipids in soils of the dry steppe
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Microbiological and biochemical investigations of chestnut soils and solonetzes were conducted in the dry steppe of the southern Privolzhskaya and northern Ergeni uplands. The living biomass of the microbial communities in the soils was estimated based on the content of phospholipids in the soils. Significant correlations were revealed between the contents of phospholipids and the main soil properties (the contents of humus, r = 0.66, P = 0.999; clay, r = −0.41, P = 0.95; physical clay, r = −0.57, P = 0.99; and pH, r = −0.59, P = 0.99). The content of phospholipids varied from 69 to 192 nmol/g of soil in the A1 horizons; with depth it decreased down to 36–135 in the B1 horizon and to 26–79 nmol/g of soil in the B2 horizon. The microbial biomass in the solonetzes was lower by 5 to 38% than that in the chestnut soils. A trend of the decreasing of the microbial biomass in the soils from the north to the south was revealed. Based on the content of phospholipids, the number of living microbial cells was assessed; the weighed averages of their number varied from 0.7–3.2 × 1010 to 7.5–13.6 × 1010.
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