An inter-laboratory comparison of multi-enzyme and multiple substrate-induced respiration assays to assess method consistency in soil monitoring

Rachel E. Creamer, Pat Bellamy, Helaina I.J. Black, Clare M. Cameron, Colin D. Campbell, Paul Chamberlain, Jim Harris, Nisha Parekh, Mark Pawlett, Jan Poskitt, Dote Stone, Karl Ritz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The use of indicators in soil monitoring schemes to detect changes in soil quality is receiving increased attention, particularly the application of soil biological methods. However, to date, the ability to compare information from different laboratories applying soil microbiological techniques in broad-scale monitoring has rarely been taken into account. This study aimed to assess the consistency and repeatability of two techniques that are being evaluated for use as microbiological indicators of soil quality: multi-enzyme activity assay and multiple substrate-induced respiration (MSIR). Data were tested for intrinsic (within-assay plate) variation, inter-laboratory repeatability (geometric mean regression and correlation coefficient) and land-use discrimination (principal components analysis). Intrinsic variation was large for both assays suggesting that high replicate numbers are required. Inter-laboratory repeatability showed diverging patterns for the enzyme assay and MSIR. Discrimination of soils was significant for both techniques with relatively consistent patterns; however, combined laboratory discrimination analyses for each technique showed inconsistent correspondence between the laboratories. These issues could be addressed through the adoption of reliable analytical standards for biological methods along with adequate replication. However, until the former is addressed, dispersed analyses are not currently advisable for monitoring schemes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-633
Number of pages11
JournalBiology and Fertility of Soils
Volume45
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • CLPP
  • Multiple substrate-induced respiration
  • Repeatability
  • Soil enzymes
  • Soil monitoring

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