Effects of Water Fluctuations on Microbial Mass and Activity in Soil

Microb Ecol. 1980 Jun;6(2):115-23. doi: 10.1007/BF02010550.


When previously dried soil was remoistened, a series of microbial events occurred. The bacterial plate count population increased rapidly, with a doubling time of 4-5 h. The length of fungal hyphae and microscopic counts of bacteria increased more slowly. The microscopically counted bacterial population was estimated to have a doubling time of about 90 h. The respiratory burst occurring after 2-3 days coincided with the maximal growth rate of the bacterial plate count population. From the respiratory data, plate count bacteria were estimated to have a cell mass of 0.4 pg dry weight, whereas the mass of microscopically counted bacteria was only 10% of this. Changes in bacterial DNA content corresponded to changes in the microscopic count, whereas changes in soil catalase activity mainly corresponded to changes in the fungal biomass, which was dominant.It is suggested that bacterial plate counts and microscopic counts represent two distinct populations of bacteria, which for practical purposes may be termed zymogenous and autochthonous, respectively.