Enzymes in Forest Soils
Forest soils are known to accumulate dead organic material (plant litter ) on the soil surface. When fresh, this material contains a range of substrates, including soluble saccharides, organic acids, amino acids or starch, as well as the plant cell wall-derived biopolymers, cellulose , hemicellulosesand lignin , which are used as growth substrates by soil decomposer microorganisms. The sequential transformation of litter leads to the formation of a distinct organic horizon in forest soils and results in a gradient of soil microbial biomass and enzymatic activities, both of which sharply decrease with soil depth. Due to the high organic matter input, enzymes participating in the decomposition of organic matter play an important role in forest soils. These include the enzymes used to degrade plant cell wall polymers (cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, and pectin ) and microbial biomass (chitinand other polysaccharides). Besides these, enzyme systems involved in the acquisition of N, P, and S are also abundant since these elements are indispensable for the growth of microbial soil biomass.
KeywordsMicrobial Biomass Forest Soil Litter Decomposition Fungal Biomass Soil Microbial Biomass
Financial support from the Czech Science Foundation (526/08/0751) and from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic (OC08050) is gratefully acknowledged.
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