The influence of pH on chitin hydrolysis by Streptomycetes from a range of acidic and neutral soils was studied in vitro in an acid soil. On the basis of activity ranges and optima for chitin hydrolysis, acidophilic, acidoduric and neutrophilic categories of Streptomycetes were dis- tinguished; these categories were broadly related to the pH requirements for growth. Responses of Streptomycetes to chitin amendment of acidic organic and mineral horizons of a pine forest soil were studied. Acidophiles were involved in the decomposition process and the resulting ammonification led subsequently to activity of neutrophiles. This succession was particularly marked in the poorly buffered mineral horizon. Similar, but smaller, responses occurred when the horizons were amended with mycelium from basidiomycete sporocarps. The role of streptomycetes in decomposition of fungal chitin in acidic litters and soils is discussed.


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