The negative effects of current agricultural practices include erosion, acidification, loss of soil organic matter (dehumidification), loss of soil structure, soil contamination by hazardous elements, reduction of biodiversity and the use of soil for non-agricultural purposes. All these effects pose a huge risk for the future development of soil quality from an agronomic point of view and its resilience to expected climate change.
Organic matter plays a crucial role in this. Relatively significant correlations have been found with the quality or health of soil parameters and soil organic matter or some fraction of soil organic matter. In particular, total carbon, oxidisable carbon, humic and fulvic acids, C/N ratio and glomalin.
Vlček and Pohanka have investigated glomalin, a glycoprotein produced by the hyphae and spores of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), which we classify as Glomeromycota. Arbuscular mycorrhiza and its molecular pathways are not a well known phenomenon and it appears that many proteins are involved in arbuscular mycorrhiza, of which glomalin is probably one of the most significant. This protein seems to be responsible for the unique chemical and physical properties of soils and has ecological and economic relevance in this respect and is a true product of mycorrhiza. Glomalin is very resistant to destruction (recalcitrant) and difficult to dissolve in water. Its extraction requires specific conditions such as high temperatures and neutral or alkaline pH buffering. Due to these properties, glomalin (or its fractions) are very stable compounds that protect the surface of soil aggregates.
Vlček V & Pohanka M. 2020. Glomalin – an interesting protein part of the soil organic matter. Soil and Water Research (2020) 15(2) 67-74