Arid soil microbial enzymatic activity profile as affected by geographical location and soil degradation status

TitleArid soil microbial enzymatic activity profile as affected by geographical location and soil degradation status
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsTahtamouni ME, Unc A, Lucero M.E., Khresat S'eb
Conference Name13th International Symposium on Microbial Ecology
Date Published08/2010
PublisherMicrobial Ecology International Symposium
Conference LocationSeattle, WA
ARIS Log Number253153
AbstractEvaluating soil health is critical for any successful remediation effort. Arid lands, with their minimal carbon and water contents, low nutritional status and restricted, seasonal microbial activity pose specific challenges to soil health restoration and by extension, restoration of ecosystem representative plant populations. Thus it is hypothesized that microbial metabolic profiles in arid soil are sensitive to relatively minor climatic variations and also to changes in soil physico-chemical parameters induced by human activities. We evaluated the total-soil enzymatic activity profiles for two distinct arid zone locations, one in the Northern Chihuahuan (NC) desert and a second one on tablelands in the Arizona/New Mexico Plateau (ANMP). At the latter site we targeted undisturbed areas as well as heavy metal contaminated lands remediated following surface coal mining. Enzymatic activity profiles were estimated by carbon substrate utilization via total soil respiration assays using the MicroResp® system. Results indicate that in general the NC samples exhibited more complex enzymatic activity profiles than the non-disturbed ANMP samples. Comparison of rhizosphere and non-rhizosphere soils indicated that the divergence in the enzymatic activity profiles was more obvious for the remediated areas than for the native non-disturbed areas. This suggests that the gradients in enzymatic activity profiles from rhizosphere to non-rhizosphere samples may be possibly used to assess the rate and status of remediation of such lands. Thus, for arid lands, the enzymatic activity profiling may be used to evaluate 1) the significance of local climatic and edaphic conditions on the metabolic range of the soil microbial activity and 2) the health status of degraded or remediated arid region soils.