Guber, A., E. Blagodatskaya, and A. Kravchenko. 2022. Are enzymes transported in soils by water fluxes? Soil Biology and Biochemistry 168:108633.
Transport of extracellular hydrolytic enzymes in soils has always been a subject of doubt. The considerations against its importance are that (i) enzymes benefit their producers the most when they remain in close proximity; and (ii) enzymes are large molecules with low mobility due to high affinity to fine soil particles and organic matter. However, soil mineral colloids (SMC), to which extracellular enzymes also have an affinity and which are known to facilitate transport of a broad variety of chemicals and microorganisms in soils, can serve as vehicles for enzyme transport as well. Since current literature lacks information on enzyme transport in soils, our goal was to determine whether enzymes are transported and, if so, whether they are transported in a free- or in a colloid-associated form. We conducted column transport experiments with four hydrolytic enzymes, namely, β-glucosidase, acid-phosphatase, cellobiohydrolase, and xylosidase, in soils with contrasting textures. The eluents containing enzymes were applied on top of soil columns, while enzyme activities, SMC, and electrical conductivity were measured in the effluents from the columns. Our results provided evidence of joint enzyme transport with soil colloids. The enzymes associated with the coarse SMC (1 μm < Ø) contributed 52–88% of the total enzyme activity in the effluents. The remaining enzyme activity was attributed to the enzymes associated with organic colloids, fine SMC (Ø < 1 μm) and free enzymes in solution. This study suggested a dual effect of ionic strength in the soil suspension on enzyme activity and their release from soils with soil colloids.
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