Soil enzymes play essential roles in catalyzing reactions necessary for nutrient cycling in the biosphere. They are also sensitive indicators of ecosystem stress, therefore their evaluation is very important in assessing soil health and quality. The standard soil enzyme assay method based on spectroscopic detection is a complicated operation that requires the removal of soil particles. The purpose of this study was to develop a new soil enzyme assay based on hydrodynamic electrochemical detection using a rotating disk electrode in a microliter droplet. The activities of enzymes were determined by measuring the electrochemical oxidation of p
-aminophenol (PAP), following the enzymatic conversion of substrate-conjugated PAP. The calibration curves of β-galactosidase (β-gal), β-glucosidase (β-glu) and acid phosphatase (AcP) showed good linear correlation after being spiked in soils using chronoamperometry. We also performed electrochemical detection using real soils. Hydrodynamic chronoamperometry can be used to assess the AcP in soils, with a detection time of only 90 s. Linear sweep voltammetry was used to measure the amount of PAP released from β-gal and β-glu by enzymatic reaction after 60 min. For the assessment of soil enzymes, the results of hydrodynamic voltammetry assay compared favorably to those using a standard assay procedure, but this new procedure is more user-friendly, rapid and simple.
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