Bioassay of available trace metals from Australian soils


Research organisaton

Trial details

Researcher(s) C Donald, B Passey and R Swaby
Year(s) 1952
Contributor South Australian Research and Development Institute
Trial location(s) Sydney, NSW
Further information View external link
Bioassay of available trace metals from Australian soils locations

To develop an assay for bioavailability of micronutrients in soils.

Key messages
  • A study was made of various factors influencing the microbiological assay of available iron, zinc, copper, manganese, and molybdenum.
  • Aspergillus niger was the test organism.
  • The availability of 15 micronutrients was determined by bioassay from 278 surface and 164 subsoil samples from eastern Australia.
  • The commonest deficiency detected was that of zinc, followed by copper, then by molybdenum, but deficiencies of iron and manganese were rarely found. Usually surface soils with a well-developed root zone were less deficient than subsoil.
  • There was a fair correlation between the availability of zinc, copper, and molybdenum to A. niger (M.) and availability to plants, but none for iron and manganese • The fungus was able to obtain adequate amounts of micronutrients from a variety of insoluble salts or oxides of iron, zinc, copper, manganese, and molybdenum, some of which were known to be unavailable to plants .
  • A number of soils inhibited the growth of the mould in complete medium. This effect was due to active fixation of added micronutrients, especially in soils rich in calcium carbonate and in "red loams".
  • No evidence was obtained that microbial fixation of trace elements occurred in deficient soils; but most major and minor elements were fixed by microorganisms in very deficient, acid-washed, quartz crystals, with the exception of calcium, which was not significantly affected, and of iron and zinc, which were released by microbial activity from the minute amounts of contaminants present.
Lead research organisation N/A
Host research organisation N/A
Related program More Profit from Crop Nutrition
Acknowledgments N/A
Other trial partners Not specified


Crop type No crop specified
Treatment type(s)
  • Soil
Trial type Experimental
Trial design Unreplicated

Sydney 1952

Sow date Not specified
Harvest date Not specified
Plot size Not specified
Plot replication Not specified
Other trial notes

Donald C, Passey B, Swaby R (1952) Bioassay of available trace metals from Australian soils. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 3, 305-325.

Trial report and links

No trial reports or attachments found

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Trial last modified: 21-10-2019 09:44am AEST