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Minerva Biotecnologica 2001 March;13(1):13-8

language: English

Should we be able to define soil quality before “restoring” it? Use of soil quality indicators in Mediterranean ecosystems

Trinchera A., Pinzari F. Benedetti A.

Istituto Sperimentale per la Nutrizione delle Piante (ISNP), Nitrogen Nutrition and Soil Microbiology Department, Rome, Italy


Background. The aim of this paper was to demonstrate the possibility to use some soil biochemical parameters as effective indicators for defining soil biological fertility status. In this article, results obtained from different studies carried out in Mediterranean ecosystems were reported in order to evaluate the “quality” of natural forest soils or undergoing the pressure of different degenerative processes.
Methods. Some parameters able to describe microbial biomass activity in soil (metabolic quotient, potentially mineralisable carbon, microbial biomass carbon/total organic carbon ratio, C-mineralisation kinetic) were considered.
Results. Results showed that disturbed sites were characterised by high mineralisation activity, high metabolic quotient and low microbial C/total organic C ratio, while undisturbed sites showed the opposite trend. In the case of natural forest systems, the more homogeneous was the vegetal cover, the slower was the microbial activity; in contrast, mixed forest sites were characterised by elevated amounts of mineralised organic carbon and corresponding high values of metabolic quotients.
Conclusions. These studies indicated that the parameters considered could be effective as both indicators of soil disturbance and soil-state descriptors for natural systems, suggesting to take them into account as soil quality indicators, when a “restoration programme” is planned.

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