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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2007

Using perlite as a substrate carrier for measuring microbial available phosphorus by respiration kinetics in soils

Ilstedt U, Singh S, Nordgren A


The release of CO2 by soil microorganisms after the addition of nitrogen and glucose in excess and calibration additions of phosphorus has successfully been used to assess microbial available P, assuming the native soil P pool is then limiting respiration. However, in P-fixing soils and soils with high P content, carbon can be exhausted before the available soil P pool. It is not possible to simply increase the amount of glucose as then the glucose concentration would be lethal for microorganisms. A modified method was tested where soil is mixed with perlite. It was hypothesised that perlite, having a high water holding capacity, would dilute the concentration of glucose, while maintaining the bioavailability of added nutrients, thus avoiding carbon limitation. Factorial combinations of amount of soil and perlite (both adjusted to -25 kPa water potential) were tested to examine if perlite as such had any effect on the respiration. Five tropical soil samples with a sharp gradient in P availability and one N-limited compost material were used. The method successfully reduced the risk of carbon limitation. Microbial indices, such as basal respiration, substrate-induced respiration and maximum P-limited respiration, were directly proportional to the amount of soil in the experiments but unrelated to the amount of perlite, showing that perlite did not affect microbial measurements

Published in

Biology and Fertility of Soils
2007, Volume: 43, number: 5, pages: 503-510
Publisher: SPRINGER