First results on enzymatic activities in two salt marsh soils under different hydromorphic level and vegetation

Carmen Trasar-Cepeda, Diana Bello, Chiara Ferronato, Livia Vittori Antisari


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.


salt-marsh soils; enzymatic activities; Juncus maritimus; Spartina maritima

Full Text:

PDF (English)


BELLO D., TRASAR-CEPEDA C., LEIRÓS M.C., GIL-SOTRES F. (2008) Evaluation of various tests for the diagnosis of soil contamination by 2,4,5-trichlorophenol (2,4,5-TCP). Environ. Poll., 156:611-617.

BELLO D., TRASAR-CEPEDA C., LEIRÓS M.C., GIL-SOTRES F. (2013) Modification of enzymatic activity in soils of contrasting pH contaminated with 2,4-dichlorophenol 361 2,4,5-trichlorophenol. Soil Biol. Biochem., 56:80-86.

CIESIELSKUI H., STERCKEMAN T. (1997) Determination of cation exchange capacity and exchangeable cations in soils by means of cobalt hexamine trichloride. Agronomie, 17:1-7.

DEMAS, G., RABENHORST M.C. (1999) Subaqueous Soils : Pedogenesis in a Submersed Environment. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 63:1250-1257.

DUARTE B., REBOREDA R., CAÇADOR I. (2008) Seasonal variation of extracellular enzymatic activity (EEA) and its influence on metal speciation in a polluted salt marsh. Chemosphere, 73:1056-1073.

FERRONATO C., MODESTO M., STEFANINI I., VIANELLO G., BIAVATI B., ANTISARI L.V. (2013) Chemical and Microbiological Parameters in Fresh Water and Sediments to Evaluate the Pollution Risk in the Reno River Watershed (North Italy). J. Water Resource Prot., 05:458–468.

FRANKENBERGER, W.T., DICK, W.A. (1983) Relationship between enzyme activities and microbial growth and activity indices in soil. Soil Sci. Soc. America J., 47:945-951.

FREITAS J., DUARTE B., CAÇADOR I. (2014) Biogeochemical drivers of phosphatase activity in salt marsh sediments J. Sea Res., 93:57-62.

GARCÍA C., HERNÁNDEZ T. (1997) Biological and biochemical indicators in derelict soils subject to erosion. Soil Biol. Biochem., 29: 171-177.

GEE G. W., BAUDER J.W. (1986) Particle-size Analysis. In: Methods of Soil Analysis: Part 1-Physical and Mineralogical Methods (Klute A., Ed.). pp. 383-412. American Society of Agronomy-Soil Science Society of America, Madison (WI) USA.

GOTTI M. (2015) Caratterizzazione dei suoli idromorfi e subacquei della Barena della Gran Chiusa (Laguna di Grado). Tesi di Laurea, Università di Bologna.

KANDELER E., KAMPICHLER C., HORAK O. (1996) Influence of heavy metals on the functional diversity of soil microbial communities. Biol. Fertil. Soils, 23:299-306.

KISS S., DRAGAN-BULARDA M., RADULESCU D. (1975) Biological significance of enzymes accumulated in soil Adv. Agron., 27:25-87.

LEIRÓS M.C., TRASAR-CEPEDA C., SEOANE S., GIL-SOTRES F. (2000) Biochemical properties of acid soils under climax vegetation (Atlantic oakwood) in an area of the European temperate-humid zone (Galicia N.W. Spain): general parameters. Soil Biol Biochem., 32:733-745.

MARINARI S., BONIFACIO E., MOSCATELLI M.C., FALSONE G., ANTISARI L.V., 394 VIANELLO G. (2013) Soil development and microbial functional diversity: Proposal for a methodological approach. Geoderma, 192:437–445.

MIGUÉNS T., LEIRÓS M.C., GIL-SOTRES F., TRASAR-CEPEDA C. (2007) Biochemical properties in vineyard soils in Galicia, Spain. Sci. Total Environ., 378:218-222.

NANNIPIERI P., CERVELLI S., PEDRAZZINI F. (1973) Concerning the extraction of enzymatically active organic matter from soil. Experientia, 31: 513-514.

NANNIPIERI P. (1994) The potential use of soil enzymes as indicators of productivity, sustainability and pollution. In: Soil Biota: Management in Sustainable Farming Systems (Pankhurst, C.E., Doube, B.M., Gupta, V.V.S.R., Grace, P.R. Eds.), pp. 238-244. CSIRO, Melbourne (Australia).

NANNIPIERI P., SEQUI P., FUSI P. (1996). Humus and enzyme activity. In: Humic Substances in Terrestrial Ecosystems (Piccolo A., Ed.), pp. 293-328. Elsevier, The Netherlands.

TOBIAS C.R., MACKO S.A., ANDERSON I.C., CANUEL E.A. (2001) Tracking the fate of a high concentration groundwater nitrate plume through a fringing marsh: a combined groundwater tracer and in situ isotope enrichment study. Limnol. Oceanogr., 46:1977-1989.

ROSS D. (1970) Effects of storage on dehydrogenase activities of soils. Soil Biol. Bio-chem., 2: 759-765.

ROSS D., TATE K.R., CAIRNS A., MEYRICK K. (1980) Influence of storage on soil mi-crobial biomass estimated by three biochemical procedures. Soil Biol. Biochem., 4:369-374

SILVESTRI S., A. DEFINA A., MARANI M. (2005) Tidal regime, salinity and salt marsh plant zonation. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Sci., 62:119–130.

Skujins J. (1978) History of Abiontic Soil Enzymes. In: Soil Enzymes (Burns R.G., Ed.). pp. 1-49. Academic Press, London, UK.

SOIL SURVEY STAFF (2014) Keys to Soil Taxonomy. 12th edition. United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service.

SPEIR T.W., ROSS D.J. (1975) Effects of storage on the activities of protease, urease, phosphatase and sulphatase in three soils under pasture. N Zealand J Soil Sci., 18:231-237.

TRASAR-CEPEDA C., GIL-SOTRES F. (1987) Phosphatase activity in acid high organic matter soils in Galicia (NW Spain). Soil Biol. Biochem., 19:281-287.

TRASAR-CEPEDA C., LEIRÓS M.C., GIL-SOTRES F. (2000a) Biochemical properties of acid soils under climax vegetation (Atlantic oakwood) in an area of the European temperate-humid zone (Galicia N.W. Spain): specific parameters. Soil Biol Biochem., 32:747-755.

TRASAR-CEPEDA C., LEIRÓS M.C., SEOANE S., GIL-SOTRES F. (2000b) Limitations of soil enzymes as indicators of soil pollution. Soil Biol. Biochem., 32:1867-1875.

TREVORS J.T. (1984) Dehydrogenase activity in soil. A comparison between the INT and TTC assay. Soil Biol. Biochem., 16:673-674.

VITTORI ANTISARI L., TRIVISANO C., GESSA G., GHERARDI M., SIMONI A., VIANELLO G., ZAMBONI N. (2010) Quality of Municipal Wastewater Compared to Surface Waters of the River and Artificial Canal Network in Different Areas of the Eastern Po Valley (Italy). Water Qual. Expo. Health 2:1-13.

ZORNOZA R., GUERRERO C., MATAIX S.J., ARCANEGUI V., GARCÍA F., MATAIX B.J. (2006). Assessing air-drying and rewetting pre-treatment effect on some enzyme activities under Mediterranean conditions. Soil Biol. Biochem., 38:2125-2134.

DOI: 10.6092/issn.2281-4485/5801


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2015 Carmen Trasar-Cepeda, Diana Bello, Chiara Ferronato, Livia Vittori Antisari

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Creative Commons License

Online ISSN 2281-4485

The journal is hosted and mantained by ABIS-AlmaDL. [privacy]