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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1996 July; 62(7): 2411–2415.
PMCID: PMC168023

Metabolic efficiency and turnover of soil microbial communities in biodegradation tests.


Biodegradability screening tests of soil commonly measure 14CO2 evolution from radiolabeled test compounds, and glucose has often served as a positive control. When constant amounts of radiolabel were added to soil in combination with increasing amounts of unlabeled substrates, glucose and some related hexoses behaved in an anomalous manner. In contrast to that of formate, benzoate, n-hexadecane, or bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, dilution of glucose radiocarbon with unlabeled glucose increased rather than decreased the rate and extent of 14CO2 evolution. [14C]glucose incorporation into biomass and Vmax values were consistent with the interpretation that application of relatively high concentrations of glucose to soil shifts the balance of the soil microbial community from the autochthonous (humus-degrading) to the zymogeneous (opportunistic) segment. The higher growth and turnover rates that define zymogeneous microorganisms, combined with a lower level of carbon incorporation into their biomass, result in the evolution of disproportionate percentages of 14CO2. When used as positive controls, glucose and related hexoses may raise the expectations for percent 14CO2 evolution to levels that are not realistic for other biodegradable compounds.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • el-Din Sharabi N, Bartha R. Testing of some assumptions about biodegradability in soil as measured by carbon dioxide evolution. Appl Environ Microbiol. 1993 Apr;59(4):1201–1205. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Shen J, Bartha R. Priming effect of substrate addition in soil-based biodegradation tests. Appl Environ Microbiol. 1996 Apr;62(4):1428–1430. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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