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Fungal biomass production and turnover in soil estimated using the acetate-in-ergosterol technique

  • Johannes Rousk
  • Erland Bååth
Publishing year: 2007
Language: English
Pages: 2173-2177
Publication/Series: Soil Biology & Biochemistry
Volume: 39
Issue: 8
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract english

We report the first attempt to estimate fungal biomass production in soil by correlating relative fungal growth rates (i.e., acetate incorporation into ergosterol) with fungal biomass increase (i.e., ergosterol) following amendments with dried alfalfa or barley straw in soil. The conversion factor obtained was then used in unamended soil, resulting in fungal biomass productions of 10–12 μg C g−1 soil, yielding fungal turnover times between 130 and 150 days. Using a conversion factor from alfalfa-treated soil only resulted in two times higher estimates for biomass production and consequently lower turnover times. Comparing fungal biomass production with basal respiration indicated that these calculations overestimated the former. Still, the turnover times of fungal biomass in soil were in the same range as turnover times estimated in aquatic systems. The slow turnover of fungal biomass contrasts with the short turnover times found for bacteria. The study thus presents empirical data substantiating the theoretical division of bacteria and fungi into a fast and a slow energy channel, respectively, in the soil food web.


  • Biological Sciences
  • Biomass production
  • Soil
  • Fungi
  • Ergosterol
  • 14C acetate


  • Effect of environmental factors on fungal and bacterial growth in soil
  • Microbial Ecology
  • ISSN: 0038-0717
Erland Bååth
E-mail: erland [dot] baath [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Professor emeritus


+46 46 222 42 64


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