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A comparison of two colorimetric assays, based upon Lowry and Bradford techniques, to estimate total protein in soil extracts.

ABSTRACT: Soil extracts usually contain large quantities of dissolved humified organic material, typically reflected by high polyphenolic content. Since polyphenols seriously confound quantification of extracted protein, minimising this interference is important to ensure measurements are representative. Although the Bradford colorimetric assay is used routinely in soil science for rapid quantification protein in soil-extracts, it has several limitations. We therefore investigated an alternative colorimetric technique based on the Lowry assay (frequently used to measure protein and humic substances as distinct pools in microbial biofilms). The accuracies of both the Bradford assay and a modified Lowry microplate method were compared in factorial combination. Protein was quantified in soil-extracts (extracted with citrate), including standard additions of model protein (BSA) and polyphenol (Sigma H1675-2). Using the Lowry microplate assay described, no interfering effects of citrate were detected even with concentrations up to 5 times greater than are typically used to extract soil protein. Moreover, the Bradford assay was found to be highly susceptible to two simultaneous and confounding artefacts: 1) the colour development due to added protein was greatly inhibited by polyphenol concentration, and 2) substantial colour development was caused directly by the polyphenol addition. In contrast, the Lowry method enabled distinction between colour development from protein and non-protein origin, providing a more accurate quantitative analysis. These results suggest that the modified-Lowry method is a more suitable measure of extract protein (defined by standard equivalents) because it is less confounded by the high polyphenolic content which is so typical of soil extracts.

SUBMITTER: Redmile-Gordon MA 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC3819989 | BioStudies | 2013-01-01T00:00:00Z

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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