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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Relationship Between Microbial Biomass and Elemental Sulfur Oxidation in Agricultural Soils


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 52 No. 3, p. 672-677
    Received: Aug 31, 1987

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. J. R. Lawrence and
  2. J. J. Germida 
  1. Dep. of Soil Science, Univ. of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Can. S7N 0W0



Elemental sulfur oxidation in 28 agricultural soils was correlated with the size and activity of the microbial biomass. Sulfur oxidation increased linearly with microbial biomass C (r = 0.68, P < 0.01) and soil respiration rate (r = 0.88, P < 0.01). Canonical analyses of the same data set further emphasized the strong interrelationship of sulfur oxidation, microbial biomass C, and respiration. These results indicated that the size and activity of the microbial biomass determined the rate of elemental S oxidation in agricultural soils. Increasing the heterotrophic biomass by glucose additions caused an increase in sulfur oxidation that was proportional to the increase in biomass C. Application of cycloheximide or chloramphenicol to a Weyburn soil decreased S oxidation by 57%. When the two inhibitors were added together an 84% decrease was observed. These results and the absence of detectable populations of elemental S oxidizing autotrophs indicated that S oxidation in these soils was primarily a heterotrophic process.

Contribution no. 534 Saskatchewan Inst. of Pedology.

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