Research Article

Soil Enzymes Research: A Review

Zahir Ahmad Zahir, Muhammad Ateeq ur Rehman Malik and Muhammad Arshad
Facebook Twitter Digg Reddit Linkedin StumbleUpon E-mail

Enzymes are biologically produced proteinic substances having specific activation in which they combine with their substrates in such a stereoscopic position that they cause changes in the electronic configuration around certain susceptible bonds. Their significance in all spheres including soil, is worth tested and reported. In plant nutrition their role cannot be substituted by any other substance and its function is quite pragmatic in solubilizing and dissolving the much needed food in ionic forms for the very survival of animal and plant kingdom. World over, innumerable researchers have contributed their efforts in exploring enzymes. This paper reviews some of the important factors affecting its behaviour, reactions in soil environment, correlation with other enzymes and soil properties, preceded by its historical perspective and sources of production.

Related Articles in ASCI
Search in Google Scholar
View Citation
Report Citation

  How to cite this article:

Zahir Ahmad Zahir, Muhammad Ateeq ur Rehman Malik and Muhammad Arshad, 2001. Soil Enzymes Research: A Review. Journal of Biological Sciences, 1: 299-307.

DOI: 10.3923/jbs.2001.299.307



  1. Zahir, Z.A., S.A. Abbas, M. Khalid and M. Arshad, 2000. Substrate dependent microbially derived plant hormones for improving growth of maize seedlings. Pak. J. Biol. Sci., 3: 289-291.
    CrossRef  |  Direct Link  |  

  2. Arshad, M. and W.T. Frankenberger Jr., 1997. Plant growth-regulating substances in the rhizosphere: Microbial production and functions. Adv. Agron., 62: 45-151.
    CrossRef  |  Direct Link  |  

  3. Bonmati, M.C., B. Ceccanti and P. Nannipieri, 1991. Spatial variability of phosphatase, urease, protease, organic carbon and total nitrogen in soil. Soil Biol. Biochem., 23: 391-396.
    Direct Link  |  

  4. Burns, R.G. and J.A. Edwards, 1980. Pesticide breakdown by soil enzymes. Pest. Sci., 11: 506-512.

  5. Curl, E.A. and B. Truelove, 1986. The Rhizosphere. Springer-Verlag, New York, USA.

  6. Delton, D.A., H.J. Exams and F.J. Hanus, 1985. . Stimulatioz by Nickel of soil microbial activity and urease and hydrogenase activities in soybeans growth in a low Nickel soil. Plant Soil, 88: 245-257.

  7. Dick, R.P., P.E. Rasmussen and E.A. Kerle, 1988. Influence of long-term residue management on soil enzyme activities in relation to soil chemical properties of a wheat-fallow system. Biol. Fertil. Soils, 6: 159-164.
    Direct Link  |  

  8. Dick, W.A. and M.A. Tabatabai, 1993. Significance and Potential Uses of Soil Enzymes. In: Soil Microbial Ecology, Metting, Jr. F.M. (Eds.). Dekker, New York, pp: 95-127

  9. Marinari, S., G. Masciandaro, B. Ceccanti and S. Grero, 2000. Influence of organic and mineral fertilizers on soil biological and physical properties. Bioresour. Technol., 72: 9-17.
    CrossRef  |  

  10. Neito, K.F. and W.T. Jr. Frankenberger, 1989. Biosynthesis of cytokinins by Azotobacter chroococcum. Soil Biol. Biochem., 21: 967-972.

  11. Pagliai, M. and M. De-Nobili, 1993. Relationships between soil porosity, root development and soil enzyme activity in cultivated soils. Geoderma, 56: 243-256.
    Direct Link  |  

  12. Shukla, A.K., B.K. Tiwari and R.R. Mishra, 1989. Temporal and depthwise distribution of microbes, enzyme activities and soil respiration in potato field soil under different agricultural systems in Northeastern hill region of India. Revue a Ecologie et de Biologie du sol, 26: 249-265.

  13. Skujins, J.J., 1967. Enzymes in Soil. In: Soil Biochemistry, Vol. 1, Marcel Dekker, New York, pp: 371-414

  14. Spalding, B.P. and J.M. Duxbury, 1977. Enzymatic activities and extractable organic matter in soil invaded by Lycopodium tristachyum. Fairy Rings. Soil Sci. Am. J., 41: 1109-1113.

  15. Speir, T.W., H.A. Kettles, H.J. Percival and A. Parshotam, 1999. Is soil acidification the cause of biochemical responses when soils are amended with heavy metal salts?. Soil Biol. Biochem., 31: 1953-1961.
    Direct Link  |  

  16. Speir, T.W., 1977. Studies on a climosequence of soils in tussock grasslands. II. Urease, phosphatase and sulfatase activities of topsoils and their relationships with other properties including plant available sulfur. N. Z. J. Sci., 20: 159-166.

  17. Speir, T.W., 1984. Urease, phosphatase and sulphatase activities of Cook Island and Tongan soils. N. Z. J. Sci., 27: 73-79.

  18. Speir, T.W. and D.J. Ross, 1978. Soil Phosphatase and Sulphatase. In: Soil Enzymes, Burns, R.G. (Ed.). Academic Press, London, pp: 197-250

  19. Staddon, W.J., L.C. Duchesne and J.T. Trevors, 1988. Acid phosphatase, alkaline phosphatase and arylsulfatase activities in soils from a jack pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb.) ecosystem after clear cutting prescribed burning and scarification. Biol. Fertil. Soils, 27: 1-4.

  20. Sutton, C.D., D. Gunary and S. Larsen, 1966. Phosphatase as a source of phosphorous for plants: II. Hydrolysis and initial uptake by a barley crop. Soil Sci., 101: 199-204.

  21. Tabatabai, M.A., 1982. Soil Enzymes. In: Methods of Soil Analysis, Part 2, Agronomy 9, American Society of Agronomy, Page, A.L., R.H. Miller and D.R. Keeney (Eds.). Soil Science Society of America, Madison, WI. USA., pp: 903-947

  22. Tabatabai, M.A., 1994. Soil Enzymes. In: Methods of Soil Analysis, Part 2, Soil Science Society of America, Page, A.L., R.H. Miller and D.R. Keeney (Eds.). Soil Science Society of America, Madison, USA., pp: 797-798

  23. Tena, M., J.A. Pinilla and R. Prado, 1981. Properties of inorganic pyrophosphatase in soil. An. Edafol. Agrobiol., 40: 1815-1824.

  24. Asghar, H.N., Z.A. Zahir, A. Khaliq and M. Arshad, 2000. Isolation of different rhizobacteria from different rapeseed varieties and their potential for auxin production. Pak. J. Bio. Sci., 3: 1556-1559.

  25. Zantua, M.I. and J.M. Bremner, 1977. Stability of urease in soils. Soil Biol. Biochem., 9: 135-140.
    Direct Link  |  

  26. Baligar, V.C., R.J.Wright and M.D. Smedley, 1988. Acid phosphatase activity in soils of the Appalachian region. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 52: 1612-1616.

  27. Yim, M.W. and N.F.Y. Tam, 1999. Effects of wastewater-borne heavy metals on mangrove plants and soil microbial activities. Marine Pollut. Bull., 39: 179-186.

  28. Woodward, J., 1985. Immobilized Cells and Enzymes. IRL Press, Oxford

  29. Wick, B., R.F. Kuhne and P.L.G. Vlek, 1998. Soil microbiological parameters as indicators of soil quality under improved fallow management systems in South-Western Nigeria. Plant Soil, 202: 97-107.

  30. Weimberg, R. and W. L. Orton, 1964. Evidence for an exocellular site for the acid phosphatase of Saccharomyces mellis. J. Bacteriol., 88: 1743-1754.

  31. Weimberg, R. and W.L. Orton, 1963. Repressible acid phosphomonoesterase and constitutive pyrophosphatase of Saccharomyces mellis. J. Bacteriol., 86: 805-813.

  32. Tiwari, S.C., B.K. Tiwari and R.R. Mishra, 1989. Microbial community, enzyme activity and CO2 evolution in pineapple orchard soil. Trop. Ecol., 30: 265-273.

  33. Bartha, R. and L. Bordeleau, 1969. Cell-free peroxidases in soil. Soil Biol. Biochem., 1: 139-143.

  34. Bergstrom, D.W., C.M. Monreal, J.A. Millette and D.J. King, 1998. Spatial dependence of soil enzyme activities along a slope. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 62: 1302-1308.

  35. Bollag, J.M., C.M. Che, J.M. Sarkar and M.J. Loll, 1987. Extraction and purification of a peroxidase from soil. Soil Biol. Biochem., 19: 61-67.
    CrossRef  |  Direct Link  |  

  36. Bopaiah, B.M., 1990. Microbiological and enzyme activities profile in the root zone and interspace soils of coconut and arecanut palms. J. Plantat. Crops, 18: 50-54.

  37. Browman, M.G. and M.A. Tabatabai, 1978. Phosphodiesterase activity in soils. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 42: 284-290.

  38. Burns, R.G., 1978. Enzyme Activity in Soil: Some Theoretical and Practical Considerations. In: Soil Enzymes, Burns, R.G. (Ed.). Academic Press, New York, USA., pp: 295-340

  39. Burns, R.G. and W.P. Gibson, 1980. The Disappearance of 2,4-D, Diallate and Malathion from Soil and Soil Components. In: Agrochemicals in Soil, Banin, A. and U. Kafkafi (Eds.). Pergamon Press, Oxford, pp: 149-159

  40. Cashel, M. and E. Freese, 1964. Excretion of alkaline phosphatase by Bacillus subtilis. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun., 16: 541-544.

  41. Chalvignac, M.A. and J. Mayaudon, 1971. Extraction and study of soil enzymes metabolizing tryptophan. Plant Soil, 34: 25-31.

  42. Cochran, V.L., L.F. Elliott and C.E. Lewis, 1989. Soil microbial biomass and enzyme activity in subarctic agricultural and forest soils. Biol. Fertil. Soils, 7: 283-288.

  43. Dick, W.A., and M.A. Tabatabai, 1978. Inorganic pyrophosphatase activity of soils. Soil Biol. Biochem., 10: 59-65.

  44. Dick, W.A. and M.A. Tabatabi, 1983. Activation of soil phosphatase by metal ions. Soil Biol. Biochem., 15: 59-63.

  45. Dodd, J.C., C.C. Burton, R.G. Burns and P. Jeffries, 1987. Phosphatase activity associated with the roots and the rhizosphere of plants infected with the vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. New Phytol., 107: 163-172.

  46. Eivazi, F. and M.A. Tabatabai, 1988. Glucosidases and galactosidases in soils. Soil Biol. Biochem., 20: 601-606.
    CrossRef  |  

  47. Estermann, E.F. and A.D. McLaren, 1961. Contribution of rhizosplane organisms to the total capacity of plants to utilize organic nutrients. Plant Soil, 15: 243-260.

  48. Fernandes, L.A., A.E.F. Neto, N. Curi, J.M. De Lima and G.A.A. Guedes, 1998. Phosphorus and acid phosphatase activity in two soils under different use conditions. Pesquisa Agropecuaria Brasileira, 33: 1159-1170.

  49. Filip, Z. and T. Preusse, 1985. Phenoloxidases their properties and effects in soil. Pedobiologia, 38: 133-142.

  50. Frankenberger, Jr. W.T. and M.A. Tabatabai, 1991. Factors affecting L-Glutaminase activity in soils. Soil Biol. Biochem., 23: 875-879.

  51. Frankenberger, Jr. W.T. and M.A. Tabatabai, 1991. L-Glutaminase activity of soils. Soil Biol. Biochem., 23: 869-874.

  52. Frankenberger, Jr. W.T. and M. Poth, 1987. Biosynthesis of indole-3-acetic acid by the pine ectomycorrhizal fungus Pisolithus tinctorious. Applied Environ. Microbiol., 53: 2908-2913.

  53. Frankenberger, Jr. W.T. and P.J. Phelan, 1985. Ethylene biosynthesis in soil: I. Method of assay in conversion of 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid to ethylene. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 49: 1416-1422.

  54. Frankenberger, Jr. W.T. and P.J. Phelan, 1985. Ethylene biosynthesis in soil: II. Kinetics and thermodynamics in the conversion of 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid to ethylene. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 49: 1422-1426.

  55. Tarafdar, J.C. and A. Jungk, 1987. Phosphatase activity in the rhizosphere and its relation to the depletion of soil organic phosphorous. Soil Biol. Fertil., 3: 199-204.

  56. Garcia, C., T. Hernande, F. Costa, B. Ceccanti and C. Ciardi, 1992. Changes in A+P content, enzyme activity and inorganic nitrogen species during composting of organic wastes. Can. J. Soil Sci., 72: 243-253.

  57. Getzin, L.W. and I. Rosefield, 1968. Organophosphorous insecticide degradation by heat-labile substances in soil. J. Agric. Food Chem., 16: 598-601.

  58. Getzin, L.W. and I. Rosefield, 1971. Partial purification and properties of a soil enzyme that degrades the insecticide malathion. Biochem. Biophys. Acta, 235: 442-453.

  59. Glinski, J., Z. Stepniewska and M. Brezezinska, 1986. Characterization of the dehydrogenase and catalase activity of the soils of two natural sites with respect to the soil oxygenation status. Pol. J. Soil Sci., 19: 47-52.

  60. Grejtovsky, A., 1991. Effect of improvement practices on enzymatic activities of heavy-textured alluvial soil. Posttinna-Vyroba, 37: 289-295.

  61. Guan, S.Y., 1989. Studies on the factors influencing soil enzyme activities: I. Effects of organic manures on soil enzyme activities and N and P transformations. Acta Pedologica Sinica, 26: 72-78.

  62. Gupta, R.D. and K.K.R. Bhardwaj, 1990. Phosphatase and urease enzymic activities in some soil profiles of North West Himalayas. J. Ind. Soc. Soil Sci., 38: 756-759.

  63. Hartmeier, W., 1988. Immobilized Bioctalysts: An Introduction. Springer-Verlag, New York, USA

  64. Heuer, B., I. Birk and B. Yaron, 1976. Effect of phosphatases on the persistence of organophosphorous insecticides in soil and water. J. Agric. Food Chem., 24: 611-614.

  65. Hofmann, E. and A. Seegrer, 1950. Soil enzymes as a measure of biological activiy. Biochem. Z., 321: 97-97.

  66. Hope, C.F.A. and R.G. Burns, 1987. Activity, origin and location of cellulases in a silt loam soil. Biol. Fertil. Soils, 5: 164-170.

  67. Hysek, J. and B. Sarapatka, 1998. Relationship between phosphatase active bacteria and phosphatase activities in forest soils. Biol. Fertil. Soils, 26: 112-115.

  68. Iftikhar, A. and K.M. Khan, 1988. Studies on enzymes activity in normal and saline soils. Pak. J. Agric. Res., 9: 505-508.

  69. Juma, N.G., 1976. Phosphatase activity of soils and of corn and soybean roots. M.Sc. Thesis, Iowa State University, USA.

  70. Juma, N.G. and M.A. Tabatabai, 1988. Phosphatase activity in corn and soybean roots: Conditions for assay and effects of metals. Plant Soil, 107: 39-47.
    CrossRef  |  

  71. Khan, M.R. 1989. Basic Enzymology. Biochemistry, 1: 257-327.

  72. Kieliszewska-Rokicka, B., 1999. Phosphate status and acid phosphatase activity in soil and ectomycorrhizas in two mature stands of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) exposed to different levels of anthropogenic pollution. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae, 68: 311-317.

  73. Kim, J.E. and J.U. Hong, 1988. Effects of herbicides on enzyme activities in soil environment. J. Korean Agric. Chem. Soc., 31: 79-85.

  74. Kramer, S. and D.M. Green, 2000. Acid and alkaline phosphatase dynamics and their relationship to soil microclimate in a semiarid woodland. Soil Biol. Biochem., 32: 179-188.

  75. Ladd, J.N., 1978. Origin and Range of Enzymes in Soil. In: Soil Enzymes, Burns, R.G. (Ed.). Marcel Dekker, New York, USA., pp: 51-96

  76. Ladd, J.N., 1985. Soil enzymes. Soil Organic Matter and Biological Activity. Martinus Nijhoff, Boston.

  77. Libbert, E. and W. Paetow, 1962. Investigations of the enzymatic hydrolysis of indole-3-acetonitrile and of the oxidation of indole-3-aldehyde in the soil and in the unboiled milk. Flora Jena, 152: 540-544.

  78. Lynch, J.M., 1974. Mode of ethylene formation by Mucor hiemalis. J. Gen. Microbiol., 83: 407-411.

  79. Mathur, S.P. and R.B. Sanderson, 1980. The partial inactivation of degradative soil enzymes by residual fertilizer copper in histosols. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 44: 750-755.

  80. Mathur, S.P., J.I. MacDougall and M. McGrath, 1980. Levels of activities of some carbohydrases, protease, lipase, and phosphatase in organic soils of differing copper content. Soil Sci., 129: 376-385.

  81. Mosbach, K., 1987. Immobilized enzymes and cells. Methods Enzymol., Part B, 135: 3-172.

  82. Mosbach, K., 1988. Immobilized enzymes and cells. Methods Enzymol. Part D, 137: 583-712.

  83. Murphy, J.J. and R.G. Minor, 1986. Distribution of a soil microbe involved in the enhanced degradation of the insecticide Amaze. Agron. Abst., pp: 185.

  84. Neitzke, M., 1999. Microbiological properties along transects in calcareous grasslands. J. Plant Nutr. Soil Sci., 162: 637-644.

  85. Olander, L.P. and P.M. Vitousek, 2000. Regulation of soil phosphatase and chitinase activity by N and P availability. Biogeochemistry, 49: 175-190.

  86. Parthasarathi, K. and L.S. Ranganathan, 2000. Aging effect on enzyme activities in pressmud vermicasts of Lampito mauritii (Kinberg) and Eudrilus eugeniae (Kinberg). Biol. Fertil. Soils, 30: 347-350.

  87. Perucci, P., 1990. Effect of the addition of municipal soild-waste compost on microbial biomass and enzyme activities in soil. Biol. Fertil. Soils, 10: 221-226.

  88. Primrose, S.B., 1976. Formation of ethylene by Escherichia coli. J. Gen. Microbiol., 95: 159-165.

  89. Pulford, I.D. and M.A. Tabatabai, 1988. Effect of waterlogging on enzyme activities in soils. Soil Biol. Biochem., 20: 215-219.

  90. Quastel, J.H., 1946. Soil Metabolism. The Royal Institute of Chemistry of Great Britain and Ireland, London. Rostlinna-Vyroba, 37: 289-295.

  91. Racke, K. and J. Coats, 1990. Advances in Enhanced Soil Microbial Pesticide Degradation. Am. Chem. Soc., Washington, DC., USA

  92. Ramirez-Martinez, J.R. and A.D. McLaren, 1966. Some factors influencing the determination of phosphatase activity in native soils and in soils sterilized by irradiation. Enzymologia, 31: 23-28.

  93. Ray, R.C., N. Beherea and N. Sethunathan, 1985. Rhodanese activity of flooded and nonflooded soils. Soil Biol. Biochem., 17: 159-162.

  94. Rosevear, A., J.F. Kennedy and J. Cabral, 1987. Immobilized Enzymes and Cells. Adam Hilgar, Bristol

  95. Rovira, A.D. and B.M. McDougall, 1967. Microbial and Biochemical Aspects of the Rhizosphere. Soil Biochemistry. Vol. 1, Marcel Dekker, New York, USA

  96. Ruggiero, P. and V.M. Radogna, 1984. Properties of laccase in humus-enzyme complexes. Soil Sci., 138: 74-87.

  97. Saa, A., M.C. Trasar-Cepeda and T. Carballas, 1998. Soil P status and phosphomonoesterase activity of recently burnt and unburnt soil following laboratory incubation. Soil Biol. Biochem., 30: 419-428.

  98. Salam, A.K., A. Katayama and M. Kimura, 1998. Activities of some soil enzymes in different land use systems after deforestation in hilly areas of West Lampung, South Sumatra, Indonesia. Soil Sci. Plant Nutr., 44: 93-103.

  99. Salam, A.K. , E. Sutanto., Y. Desvia, A. Niswati, Dermiyati and M. Kimura, 1999. Activities of soil enzymes in fields continuously cultivated with cassava, sugarcane and pineapple in middle terrace areas of Lampung Province, South Sumatra, Indonesia. Soil Sci. Plant Nutr., 45: 803-809.

  100. Sarapatka, B. and M. Krskova, 1997. Interactions between phosphatase activity and soil characteristics from some locations in the Czech Republic. Rostlinna Vyroba., 43: 415-419.

  101. Sarkar, J.M. R.L. Malcolm and J.M. Bollag, 1988. Enzymatic coupling of 2,4-dichlorophenol to stream fulvic acid in the presence of oxidoreductases. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 52: 688-694.

  102. Sarwar, M., M. Arshad, D.A. Martens and W.T. Frankenberger Jr., 1992. Tryptophan-dependent biosynthesis of auxins in soil. Plant Soil, 147: 207-215.
    CrossRef  |  Direct Link  |  

  103. Senwo, Z.N. and M.A. Tabatabai, 1996. Aspartase activity of soils. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 60: 1416-1422.

  104. Senwo, Z.N. and M.A. Tabatabai, 1999. Aspartase activity in soils: Effects of trace elements and relationships to other amidohydrolases. Soil Biol. Biochem., 31: 213-219.

  105. Shannon, M.J.R. and R. Bartha, 1988. Immobilization of leachable toxic soil pollutants by using oxidative enzymes. Applied Environ. Microbiol., 54: 1719-1723.

  106. Shendzhen, A. Kh., E.P. Aleshin and O.A. Doseeva, 1991. Change in the fermentative activity of rice field soil under the influence of microfertilizers. Doklady Vsesoyuznoi Ordena Lenina I Ordena Trudovogo Krasnogo Znameni Akademii Sel Skokhozy aistven 8: 16-18.

  107. Sikora, L.J. and D.D. Kaufman, 1987. Enzyme activity in soil with accelerated pesticide degradation history. Agron. Abst., pp: 192.

  108. Sjoblad, R.D. and J.M. Bollag, 1981. Oxidative Coupling of Aromatic Compounds by Enzymes from Soil Microorganisms. Soil Biochemistry. Vol. 5, Marcel Dekker, New York, USA

  109. Skujins, J., 1978. History of Abiontic Soil Enzyme Research. Soil Enzymes. Academic Press, New York, USA., pp: 1-49

©  2023 Science Alert. All Rights Reserved