The term “Glomalin” was originally used to describe a hypothetical gene product of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) that was assumed to be a nearly ubiquitous, thermostable and highly recalcitrant glycoprotein, deposited in soils in large amounts, and deemed to indicate soil health and quality. It was defined operationally as the fraction of soil organic matter (SOM) extractable by a hot citrate buffer and assessed either by Bradford assay or by cross-reactivity with monoclonal antibody MAb32B11. Later, it was recognized that the extracts contained a variety of compounds, including some of non-AMF origin, cross-reactive with both Bradford assay and the monoclonal antibody. This led to re-describing the pertinent (and still only operationally defined) SOM as “glomalin-related soil proteins (GRSP)”, albeit without any substantial change in the underlying concepts. Consequently, a great deal of confusion in this area arose among researchers in soil, plant, and environmental sciences. Glomalin or GRSP (often used interchangeably) has previously been linked to various soil features, including stability of soil aggregates, size of soil C and N pools, sequestration of heavy metals, and alleviation of various plant stresses. GRSP concentrations in soil often, but not always, have been correlated with AMF biomass measured by alternative (mainly microscopic) approaches. GRSP formation, deposition, and/or decomposition in soils seem to be largely dependent on a multitude of interactions among plants, AMF, and other soil microorganisms, including prokaryotes. The chemical structure of GRSP extracted from soil remains unclear and generally complex. That is due to the unspecific mode of its extraction and purification, as well as the great variety of analytical approaches that have been used heretofore to assess it. Future research needs to elucidate the exact composition of this operationally defined SOM fraction, the controls over its production and accumulation in soils, and its exact role in soil ecology generally and soil food webs in particular. Furthermore, novel and independent tools should be established to more specifically (as compared to current glomalin assays) assess AMF biomass and functioning in roots and soil and its involvement in soil processes.
Holátko J; Brtnický M; Kučerík J et al. 2020 Soil Biology and Biochemistry