Functional complement of biogenic structures produced by earthworms, termites and ants in the neotropical savannas uri icon

abstract

  • Soil-engineering organisms (earthworms, termites and ants) affect the soil and litter environment indirectly by the accumulation of their biogenic structures (casts, pellets, galleries, crop sheetings nests...). An enzymatic typology was conducted on six types of biogenic structures: casts produced by two earthworms (Andiodrilus sp. and Martiodrilus sp.), a nest built by a soil-feeding termite (Spinitertnes sp.), crop galleries built by another soil-feeding termite (Ruptitermes sp.) and soil pellets produced by two species of leaf-cutting ant (Acromyrmex landolti and Atta laevigata) and an control soil from a natural Colombian savanna. A total of 10 enzymes (xylanase, amylase, cellulase, alpha-glucosidase, beta-glucosidase, beta-xylosidase, N-acteyl-glucosaminidase, alkaline and acid phosphatases and laccase) were selected to characterize the functional diversity of the biogenic structures. Our results showed that (i) Martiodrilus casts were characterized by a broad enzymatic profile that was different from that of the soil. (ii) A. laevigata pellets and termite structures had a profile broadly similar to the soil only with some enzymes (iii) Andiodrilus casts had an enzyme profile very similar to that of the soil. These results suggest that the functional diversity of these structures is related to differences between species and not to differences between taxonomic groups. For the first time, we evaluated differences in enzyme typology between biogenic structures collected on the same site but produced by different organisms. These differences suggested species dependent pathways for the decomposition of organic matter. (c) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 2005
  • 2005