Guber, A. K., A. N. Kravchenko, B. S. Razavi, E. Blagodatskaya, and Y. Kuzyakov. 2019. Calibration of 2-D soil zymography for correct analysis of enzyme distribution. European Journal of Soil Science 70:715-726.
Soil zymography is a new technique developed to visualize two-dimensional distributions of enzyme activities. The method consists of incubating a membrane saturated with an enzyme-specific fluorogenic substrate on a surface of the soil sample, followed by recording the membrane image generated by a fluorescent product (e.g. MUF: methylumbelliferone) in ultraviolet light. Despite its relative ease of use, performing zymography involves multiple user-made decisions that might affect the accuracy of enzyme activity estimates. Therefore, unification of the zymography methodology is required for correct estimations and comparisons of various studies. We evaluated the following methodological aspects of the implementation of zymography: (a) camera settings and image processing, (b) effects of evaporation and © calibration procedures. Camera settings (shutter speeds or exposure time) affected the intensity of background fluorescence and signal-to-noise ratios (SNR). However, because their combined effects varied depending on MUF concentrations, light and camera setting need to be optimized for the expected range of MUF concentrations prior to zymography. Evaporation of MUF solution from the membrane had no effect on fluorescence. Relations between MUF concentration and intensity of fluorescence during calibrations demonstrated a saturated pattern and were strongly affected by image noise outside the optimal range (e.g. 8?14??m MUF pixel?1). We developed a new calibration approach that is based on a piecewise linear regression. The new approach accounted for specific ranges of MUF concentration and uses nonuniformly saturated membranes, reflecting the real distribution of enzyme activities in soil. The new calibration algorithm eliminated biases of the standard calibration and resulted in greater accuracy in predicting MUF concentrations. Highlights We developed a new approach to calibration for 2-D soil zymography. The approach accounted for spatial nonuniformity of soil zymograms. Standard calibration resulted in systematic underestimation of enzyme activity. Soil zymography requires pixel-based calibration with nonuniformly saturated membranes.
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