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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 66 No. 2, p. 519-523

    * Corresponding author(s): tcbalser@facstaff.wisc.edu
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Methodological variability in microbial community level physiological profiles

  1. Teri C. Balser *a,
  2. James W. Kirchnerb and
  3. Mary K. Firestonec
  1. a Dep. of Soil Science, 1525 Observatory Dr., Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706
    b Dep. of Earth and Planetary Science, Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA 94720
    c Dep. of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA 94720


We performed two experiments to assess the methodological variability of microbial community-level physiological profiles (CLPP, using the BiOLOG assay) in soil from a California annual grassland ecosystem. In a study to assess the impact of sample preparation, we found that bacteria adhered to soil surfaces are numerically dominant and have CLPPs indistinguishable from that of intact soil. Studies that allow soil particles to settle prior to dilution or plating may not accurately reflect the substrate utilization pattern of whole soil. In a hierarchical ANOVA, we found that nearly all of the methodological variability in the CLPP assay comes from soil replicates rather than plate replicates. Many laboratories replicate at the level of the CLPP plate. Our results indicate that to best represent a given soil sample, it is important to replicate soil subsamples, rather than CLPP plates.

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Copyright © 2002. Soil Science SocietyPublished in Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J.66:519–523.