Eurasian Soil Science

, Volume 44, Issue 6, pp 686–692 | Cite as

Assessment of the microbial biomass using the content of phospholipids in soils of the dry steppe

Soil Biology


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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    M. B. Vainshtein and E. B. Kudryashova, “Nanobacteria,” Mikrobiologiya 69(2), 163–174 (2000).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    T. V. Ganchak and A. V. Borisov, “Content of Microscopic Fungi in Buried and Recent Soils of the Steppe Zone,” in Ecology and Soils: Lectures and Reports of the XIII All-Russian School (Ross. Akad. Nauk, Pushchino, 2006), Vol. 5, pp. 73–77 [in Russian].Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    V. A. Demkin, A. V. Borisov, and S. N. Udal’tsov, “Paleosols and Climate in the Southeast of the Central Russian Upland during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages (the 25th–15th Centuries BC),” Pochvovedenie, No. 1, 7–17 (2010) [Eur. Soil Sci. 43 (1), 5–14 (2010)].Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    N. N. Kashirskaya, T. E. Khomutova, V. V. Dmitriev, et al., “The Morphology of Cells and the Biomass of Microorganisms in the Buried Paleosols and recent Steppe Soils of the Lower Volga Region,” Pochvovedenie, No. 10, 1229–1238 (2010) [Eur. Soil Sci. 43 (10), 1140–1149 (2010)].Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    L. M. Polyanskaya and D. G. Zvyagintsev, “The Content and Composition of Microbial Biomass as an Index of the Ecological Status of Soil,” Pochvovedenie, No. 6, 706–714 (2005) [Eur. Soil Sci. 38 (6), 625–633 (2005)].Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    E. Baath, “The Use of Neutral Lipid Fatty Acids to Indicate the Physiological Conditions of Soil Fungi,” Microb. Ecol. 45, 373–383 (2003).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    D. L. Balkwill, R. L. Franklin, J. T. Wilson, et al., “Equivalence of Microbial Biomass Measures Based on Membrane Lipid and Cell Wall Components, Adenosine Triphosphate, and Direct Counts in Subsurface Aquifer Sediments,” Microb. Ecol. 16, 73–84 (1988).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    T. S. Demkina, T. E. Khomutova, N. N. Kashirskaya, et al., “Age and Activation of Microbial Communities in Soils Under the Burial Mounds and in Recent Surface Soils of Steppe Zone,” Eur. Soil Sci. 41(13), 1439–1447 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    R. Findlay, “The Use of Phospholipid Fatty Acids to Determine Microbial Community Structure,” Molecular Microbial Ecology Manual Kluwer, Dordrecht, 1996), pp. 1–17.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    A. Frostegard, A. Tunlid, and E. Baath, “Microbial Biomass Measured as Total Lipid Phosphate in Soils of Different Organic Content,” J. Microbiol. Methods 14, 151–163 (1991).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    D. I. Nikitin, Modern Methods in the Study of Microbial Ecology, Ed. by T. Rosswall, Bull. Ecol. Res. Comm. (Stockholm), 17, 85–92 (1973)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    S. Norland, M. Heldal, and O. Tumyr, “On the Relation between Dry Matter and Volume of Bacteria,” Microb. Ecol. 13, 95–101 (1987).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    N. S. Panikov, “Contribution of Nanosized Bacteria to the Total Biomass and Activity of Soil Microbial Community,” Adv. Appl. Microbiol. 57, 245–296 (2005).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    T. K. Rajaniemi and V. J. Allison, “Abiotic Conditions and Plant Cover Differentially Affect Microbial Biomass and Community Composition on the Dune Gradients,” Soil Biol. Biochem. 4, 102–109 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    J. Steinberg, L. Zelles, Q. Y. Bai, et al., “Phospholipid Fatty Acid Profiles as Indicators for the Microbial Community Structure in Soils Along a Climatic Transect in the Judean Desert,” Biol. Fertil. Soils 28, 292–300 (1999).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    D. C. White and D. B. Ringelberg, Utility of the Signature Lipid Biomarker Analysis in Determining the in Situ Viable Biomass, Community Structure and Nutritional, Ed. by P. S. Amy and D. Haldeman (Lewis, Boca Raton, 1997), pp. 119–136.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    L. Zelles, “Fatty Acid Patterns of Phospholipids and Lipopolysaccharides in the Characterization of Microbial Communities in Soil: a Review,” Biol. Fertil. Soils 29, 111–129 (1999).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems of Soil ScienceRussian Academy of SciencesPushchino, Moscow oblastRussia

Personalised recommendations