Glomalin and Soil Aggregation under Six Management Systems in the Northern Great Plains, USA


The soil environment is linked to aboveground management including plant species composition, grazing intensity, levels of soil disturbance, residue management, and the length of time of a living plant is growing. Soil samples were collected under rangeland [native grass, rotational grazing (NGRG); tame grass, heavy grazing (TGRG); and tame grass, rotational grazing (TGHG)] and cropland [conventional till (CT); CT plus manure (CTM); and long term no till (NT)] systems. The rangeland systems were hypothesized to have higher glomalin content [measured as Bradford-reactive soil protein (BRSP)] and water stable aggregation (WSA) than the cropland systems. In addition, within both rangeland and cropland systems, BRSP and WSA were expected to decline with increased disturbance due to grazing or tillage and going from native to introduced plant species. Differences were detected for BRSP with NGRG and CTM having the highest values in range and cropland systems, respectively. However, the CTM system had higher BRSP values than one or both of the tame grass systems while the CT and NT systems had similar values. Correlation analysis showed strong relationships between all of the BRSP values and WSA.

Share and Cite:

K. Nichols and J. Millar, "Glomalin and Soil Aggregation under Six Management Systems in the Northern Great Plains, USA," Open Journal of Soil Science, Vol. 3 No. 8, 2013, pp. 374-378. doi: 10.4236/ojss.2013.38043.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] M. F. Allen, W. Swenson, J. I. Querejeta, L. M. EgertonWarburton and K. K. Treseder, “Ecology of Mycorrhizae: A Conceptual Framework for Complex Interactions among Plants and Fungi,” Annual Review of Phytopathology, Vol. 41, 2003, pp. 271-303.
[2] K. A. Nichols and S. F. Wright, “Contributions of Soil Fungi to Organic Matter in Agricultural Soils,” In: F. R. Magdoff and R. R. Weil, Eds., Soil Organic Matter in Sustainable Agriculture, CRC Press, New York, 2004, pp. 179-198.
[3] M. C. Rillig and P. D. Steinberg, “Glomalin Production by an Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungus: A Mechanism of Habitat Modification?” Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Vol. 34, No. 9, 2002, pp. 1371-1374.
[4] J. Pikul Jr., G. Chilom, J. Rice, A. Eynard, T. E. Schumacher, K. A. Nichols, J. M. F. Johnson, S. Wright, T. C. Caesar-Tonthat and M. Ellsbury, “Organic Matter and Water Stability of Field Aggregates Affected by Tillage in South Dakota,” Soil Science Society of America Journal, Vol. 73, 2009, pp. 197-206.
[5] S. F. Wright and R. L. Anderson, “Aggregate Stability and Glomalin in Alternative Crop Rotations for the Central Great Plains,” Biology and Fertility of Soils, Vol. 31, No. 3/4, 2000, pp. 249-253.
[6] S. F. Wright, J. L. Starr and I. C. Paltineanu, “Changes in Aggregate Stability and Concentration of Glomalin during Tillage Management Transition,” Soil Science Society of America Journal, Vol. 63, No. 6, 1999, pp. 1825-1829.
[7] F. Borie, R. Rubio, J. L. Rouanet, A. Morales, G. Borie and C. Rojas, “Effects of Tillage Systems on Soil Characteristics, Glomalin and Mycorrhizal Propagules in a Chilean Ultisol,” Soil and Tillage Research, Vol. 88, No. 1-2, 2006, pp. 253-261.
[8] T. Caesar-Tonthat, U. M. Sainju, S. F. Wright, W. L. Shelver, R. L. Kolberg and M. West, “Long-Term Tillage and Cropping Effects on Microbiological Properties Associated with Aggregation in a Semi-Arid Soil,” Biology and Fertility of Soils, Vol. 47, No. 2, 2010, pp. 157-165.
[9] M. C. Rillig, “Arbuscular Mycorrhizae, Glomalin, and Soil Aggregation,” Canadian Journal of Soil Science, Vol. 84, No. 4, 2004, pp. 355-363.
[10] A. Roldán, J. R. Salinas-García, M. M. Alguacil and F. Caravaca, “Soil Sustainability Indicators Following Conservation Tillage Practices under Subtropical Maize and Bean Crops,” Soil and Tillage Research, Vol. 93, No. 2, 2007, pp. 273-282.
[11] S. B. Wuest, T. C. Caesar-Tonthat, S. F. Wright and J. D. Williams, “Organic Matter Addition, N, and Residue Burning Effects on Infiltration, Biological, and Physical Properties of an Intensively Tilled Silt-Loam Soil,” Soil and Tillage Research, Vol. 84, No. 2, 2005, pp. 154-167.
[12] K. M. Batten, K. M. Scow, K. F. Davies and S. P. Harrison, “Two Invasive Plants Alter Soil Microbial Community Composition in Serpentine Grasslands,” Biological Invasions, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2006, pp. 217-230.
[13] M. A. Bingham and M. Biondini, “Mycorrhizal Hyphal Length as a Function of Plant Community Richness and Composition in Restored Northern Tallgrass Prairies (USA),” Rangeland Ecology and Management, Vol. 62, No. 1, 2009, pp. 60-67.
[14] S. B. Bird, J. E. Herrick, M. M. Wander and S. F. Wright, “Spatial Heterogeneity of Aggregate Stability and Soil Carbon in Semi-Arid Rangeland,” Environmental Pollution, Vol. 116, No. 3, 2002, pp. 445-455.
[15] J. S. Buyer, D. A. Zuberer, K. A. Nichols and A. J. Franzluebbers, “Soil Microbial Community Function, Structure, and Glomalin in Response to Tall Fescue Endophyte Infection,” Plant and Soil, Vol. 339, No. 1-2, 2011, pp. 401-412.
[16] A. J. Franzluebbers, S. F. Wright and J. A. Stuedemann, “Soil Aggregation and Glomalin under Pastures in the Southern Piedmont USA,” Soil Science Society of America Journal, Vol. 64, No. 3, 2000, pp. 1018-1026.
[17] E. R. Lutgen, D. Muir-Clairmont, J. Graham and M. C. Rillig, “Seasonality of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Hyphae and Glomalin in a Western Montana Grassland,” Plant and Soil, Vol. 257, No. 1, 2003, pp. 71-83.
[18] M. C. Rillig, F. T. Maestre and L. J. Lamit, “Microsite Differences in Fungal Hyphal Length, Glomalin, and Soil Aggregate Stability in Semiarid Mediterranean Steppes,” Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Vol. 35, No. 9, 2003, pp. 1257-1260.
[19] K. Klumpp, S. Fontaine, E. Attard, X. Le Roux, G. Gleixner and J.-F. Soussana, “Grazing Triggers Soil Carbon Loss by Altering Plant Roots and Their Control on Soil Microbial Community,” Journal of Ecology, Vol. 97, No. 5, 2009, pp. 876-885.
[20] L. J. Ingram, P. D. Stahl, G. E. Schuman, J. S. Buyer, G. F. Vance, G. K. Ganjegunte, J. M. Welker and J. D. Derner, “Grazing Impacts on Soil Carbon and Microbial Communities in a Mixed-Grass Ecosystem,” Soil Science Society of America Journal, Vol. 72, No. 4, 2008, pp. 939-948.
[21] M. A. Liebig, J. R. Gross, S. L. Kronberg, R. L. Phillips and J. D. Hanson, “Grazing Management Contributions to Net Global Warming Potential: A Long-Term Evaluation in the Northern Great Plains,” Journal of Environmental Quality, Vol. 39, No. 3, 2010, pp. 799-809.
[22] J. Six, S. D. Frey, R. K. Thiet and K. M. Batten, “Bacterial and Fungal Contributions to Carbon Sequestration in Agroecosystems,” Soil Science Society of America Journal, Vol. 70, No. 2, 2006, pp. 555-569.
[23] X. He, Y. Li and L. Zhao, “Dynamics of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi and Glomalin in the Rhizosphere Ofartemisia Ordosica Krasch. In Mu Us Sandland, China,” Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Vol. 42, No. 8, 2010, pp. 1313-1319.
[24] S. F. Wright, M. Franke-Snyder, J. B. Morton and A. Upadhyaya, “Time-Course Study and Partial Characterization of a Protein on Hyphae of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi During Active Colonization of Roots,” Plant and Soil, Vol. 181, No. 2, 1996, pp. 193-203.
[25] W. D. Kemper and R. C. Rosenau, “Aggregate Stability and Size Distribution,” In: Methods of Soil Analysis, Part I. Physical and Mineralogical Methods, American Society of Agronomy-Soil Science Society of America, Madison, WI, 1986, pp. 425-442.
[26] J. J. Halvorson and J. M. Gonzalez, “Tannic Acid Reduces Recovery of Water-Soluble Carbon and Nitrogen from Soil and Affects the Composition of Bradford-Reactive Soil Protein,” Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Vol. 40, No. 1, 2008, pp. 186-197.
[27] K. A. Nichols and S. F. Wright, “Comparison of Glomalin and Humic Acid in Eight Native U.S. Soils,” Soil Science, Vol. 170, No. 12, 2005, pp. 985-997.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.