Cellulase dynamics in a desert soil

Jack Doyle, Ruth Pavel, Ginetta Barness, Yosef Steinberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


A field study was conducted in the Negev Desert over three seasons: June (summer), October (autumn), and April (spring). Cellulose of plant or paper origin was added to the study soils. The concentration of cellulase in the soil was determined by monitoring the rate of solubilization of chromophoric molecules covalently linked to artificial insoluble cellulose (cellulose-azure). The amount of CO2 evolved from the soil was also evaluated at 60-day intervals. In this paper, we demonstrate that significant differences (p<0.01) in the cellulase concentration in desert soils are mainly due to the time period during which organic matter was incorporated into the soil. Data are presented showing changes in cellulase concentrations in the soil as a response to different cellulose sources (plant and paper origin) throughout the year. The results of our field experiments show that the cellulase concentration in the soil surrounding cellulose (paper) is higher during the summer than during the other seasons. The concentration of cellulase associated with fresh organic matter was found to be double that associated with paper. CO2 evolution was higher in soil samples supplemented with organic matter than in control samples. This study demonstrates that the concentration of cellulase in desert soil changes over the year and is influenced by the cellulose source and by the quality of the cellulose incorporated in the soil.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-376
Number of pages6
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006


  • Cellulase
  • Desert
  • Enzyme
  • Organic matter


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