Nitrogen and carbon mineralization in soil amended with D- and L-leucine

R. W. O'Dowd, D. Barraclough, D. W. Hopkins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The rates of gross C mineralization over short-term (0-6 h) and longer-term (0-6 d) incubation of soil amended with the Land D-enantiomers of leucine have been determined from the CO2 production. The rates of N mineralization over 6 d incubations of similarly amended soils were determined by 15N isotope pool dilution for gross N mineralization and both α-amino N disappearance and NH4/+ accumulation for net N mineralization. The rates of net and gross N mineralization and of C mineralization from D-leucine were all significantly less than those from L-leucine and we present the first data for mineralization of N from a D-amino acid in soil. The hypothesis that the onset of rapid utilization of D-leucine by microorganisms was delayed whilst deamination occurred to yield an achiral keto-acid was not supported because the pulse in gross N mineralization following D-leucine addition to the soil was coincident with that of C mineralization and occurred later than the pulse of gross N mineralization in soil amended with L-leucine. By the time all the added amino acid had disappeared from the extractable pool, 26% of the N added as L-leucine had been taken up and possibly assimilated by the soil microorganisms compared with 47% for D-leucine. Based on these estimates of N assimilation, the C:N ratio of the microorganisms assimilating L-leucine could have been nearly twice that of the microorganisms assimilating D-leucine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1573-1578
Number of pages6
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Issue number11
Publication statusPrint publication - Oct 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • N isotope dilution
  • Amino acid enantiomers
  • Gross nitrogen mineralization


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