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Microbial biomass and activity on railway track and embankments

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The spatial distribution of microbial biomass and microbial activity was studied in two Swedish railway embankments (located close to Mora and Nässjö). Basal respiration and substrate‐induced respiration (SIR) as well as the active (r) and dormant (K) fractions of the microbial biomass were determined in samples taken from the surface layer of the ballast. The SIR, r, K and basal respiration values were all of an overall low magnitude, but were highly variable over short distances on the track. Both the biomass and basal respiration were higher on the sides of the embankment than in the middle of the tracks. SIR, K and basal respiration were correlated to the organic matter content as measured by loss on ignition, whereas r was not. None of the parameters correlated with pH. It is proposed that organic matter content could be used as a predictor for microbial biomass in railway embankments. Copyright © 2004 Society of Chemical Industry

Keywords: herbicide degradation; microbial activity; microbial biomass; railway track and embankments; substrate‐induced respiration

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Department of Microbiology, Box 7025, SE-75007 Uppsala, Sweden

Publication date: June 1, 2004

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