Dehydrogenase activity of forest soils depends on the assay used

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Dehydrogenases are exclusively intracellular enzymes, which play an important role in the initial stages of oxidation of soil organic matter. One of the most frequently used methods to estimate dehydrogenase activity in soil is based on the use of triphenyltetrazolium chloride as an artificial electron acceptor. The purpose of this study was to compare the activity of dehydrogenases of forest soils with varied physicochemical properties using different triphenyltetrazolium chloride assays. The determination was carried out using the original procedure by Casida et al., a modification of the procedure which involves the use of Ca(OH)2 instead of CaCO3, the Thalmann method, and the assay by Casida et al. without addition of buffer or any salt. Soil dehydrogenase activity depended on the assay used. Dehydrogenase determined by the Casida et al. method without addition of buffer or any salt correlated with the pH values of soils. The autoclaved strongly acidic samples of control soils showed high concentrations of triphenylformazan, probably due to chemical reduction of triphenyltetrazolium chloride. There is, therefore, a need for a sterilization method other than autoclaving, ie a process that results in significant changes in soil properties, thus helping to increase the chemical reduction of triphenyltetrazolium chloride.

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