β-Glucosidase is involved in the degradation of cellulose in soils and has potential for monitoring biological soil quality. We assayed β-glucosidase activity in 29 permanent grassland soils from England and Wales with contrasting physico-chemical and biological properties (clay content 22-68%; total carbon 29-80 mg g-1; microbial carbon 412-3412 μg g-1). Substrate induced β-glucosidase activity ranged between 1.12 and 6.12 μmol para-nitrophenol g-1 soil h-1 and was positively correlated with concentrations of clay, total carbon and microbial carbon. This suggests that substrate-induced β-glucosidase activity is an integrative measure of physico-chemical and biological soil properties and may have applications in monitoring biological soil quality.
- Microbial biomass
- Soil quality