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Microb Ecol. 1988 Jul;16(1):73-84. doi: 10.1007/BF02097406.

Equivalence of microbial biomass measures based on membrane lipid and cell wall components, adenosine triphosphate, and direct counts in subsurface aquifer sediments.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Florida State University, 32306, Tallahassee, Florida, USA.


An uncontaminated subsurface aquifer sediment contains a sparse microbial community consisting primarily of coccobacillary bacteria of relatively uniform size which can be counted directly with appropriate staining. The morphological simplicity and the relatively decreased cell numbers, when compared with surface soils and sediments, make the subsurface an ideal natural community with which to compare the utility of chemical measures of microbial biomass to direct microscopic counts. The membrane phospholipids (estimated as the polar lipid fatty acids, the lipid phosphate, and phosopholipid glycerol phosphate), lipopolysaccharide lipid A (estimated as the LPS hydroxy fatty acids), cell walls (estimated as the muramic acid), and adenosine triphosphate all give essentially identical estimates of cell numbers and dry weight as the direct counts, using conversion factors determined on subsurface microorganism monocultures. Assays of microbial cell components are thus validated by comparison with the classical direct count in at least one soil/sediment.


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