Is the microwave irradiation a suitable method for measuring soil microbial biomass?

Mini Review


Soil microbial biomass (SMB), the living part of soil organic matter, is used to quantify the total biomass of microorganisms present in the soil. The importance of studies about SMB has emphasized the need to identify methods which can measure the size of SMB. Among the methods currently available, chloroform-fumigation extraction and incubation are the most commonly used for estimation of SMB. However, several studies have proposed the microwave (MW) irradiation as a quick, simple and safe alternate method. There are different opinions about suitability of this method for measuring SMB. There is a question to do “Is the microwave irradiation a suitable method for measuring soil microbial biomass?” Most of the published papers comparing MW and chloroform-fumigation showed strong relationship between both methods. Therefore, we consider MW a suitable method for measuring SMB; however, it is necessary to calibrate the MW methods in different soils with a range of properties, such as clay content, to find an appropriate conversion factor in order to generate correct values for SMB with MW method.


Soil organic matter Chloroform-fumigation Soil microorganisms 



The author is grateful to “Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico” (CNPq-Brazil) for financial support to “Soil Microbial Ecology in Mid-North Region” research group. Ademir S.F. Araujo is supported by personal fellowship from CNPq-Brazil.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Federal University of Piauí, Agricultural Science CenterSoil Quality LabTeresinaBrazil

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