First results on enzymatic activities in two salt marsh soils under different hydromorphic level and vegetation
Keywords:salt-marsh soils, enzymatic activities, Juncus maritimus, Spartina maritima
Salt-marsh soils are soils characterized by non-permanent hydric saturation that, depending on factors like duration of submersion periods, are dominated by different salt-tolerant plant species. The composition of microbial communities is an essential component in trophic dynamics and biogeochemical processes in salt marshes, and determines the level of enzymatic activities, which catalyze the conversion of complex molecules into simpler ones. Despite of this, the enzymatic activities in marsh-soils has not yet been investigated. The aim of this study was to analyze the enzymatic activities in two soil profiles of marsh-soils under different water saturation level and dominated by different plant species [Juncus maritimus Lam and Spartina maritima (Curtis) Fernald (Sp)]. In both soils, the enzymatic activities were much lower than the levels typically found in terrestrial ecosystems. The enzymatic activities were measured both in air-dried and in re-moistened and incubated soil samples. In air-dried samples, the enzymatic activities were higher in Juncus than in Spartina soil and tended to decrease with depth, being sharper the decrease in Juncus than in Spartina soil. Re-moistened and pre-incubated soils showed a general increase in all the enzymatic activities and throughout the whole soil profile, especially in Spartina soils. Hydrolase activities showed a strong and positive relationship with organic matter content both in air-dried and in re-moistened soil samples, higher in these latter. In general, oxidoreductase activities only showed this relationship in re-moistened soil samples. More studies, preferably using freshly collected soil samples, are needed to understand the relationship between enzymatic activities and these environmental conditions.
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