NMR metabolomics for soil analysis provide complementary, orthogonal data to MIR and traditional soil chemistry approaches - a land use study Academic Article uri icon


  • The present study was designed to analyse soils by different methodologies to determine the range of traits that could be investigated for the study of environmental soil samples. Proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((1) H NMR) was employed for metametabolomic analysis of soils from agricultural systems (managed) or from soils in a native state (remnant). The metabolomic methodologies employed (grinding and extraction with sonication) are capable of breaking up cell walls and so enabled characterisation of both extracellular and intracellular components of soil. Diffuse mid-infrared spectroscopy (MIR) data was obtained for the same sample sets, and in addition, elemental composition was determined by conventional laboratory chemical testing methods. Also investigated was the antibiotic activity of the soil extracts. Resilient or suppressive soils are valued in the agricultural setting as they convey disease resistance (against bacterial and fungal pathogens) to crop plants. In order to test if any such biological activity could be detected in the soils, the extracts were tested against the bacteria Bacillus subtilis. Several extracts showed strong growth inhibition against the bacteria with the most active clustered together in principle component analysis (PCA) of the metabolomic data. The study showed that the NMR metabolomic approach corresponds more accurately to land use and biochemical properties potentially associated with suppression, while MIR data correlated well to inorganic chemical analysis. Thus, the study demonstrates the utility in combining these spectroscopic methods for soil analysis.

publication date

  • 2015