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Published in Soil Biology and Biochemistry 38:5 (May 2006), pp. 1139–1145; doi: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2005.09.014 Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. Used by permission.


A laboratory experiment was conducted to determine the effect of temperature (2, 12, 22 °C) on the rate of aer­obic decomposition of skeletal muscle tissue (Ovis aries) in a sandy loam soil incubated for a period of 42 days. Measurements of decomposition processes included skeletal muscle tissue mass loss, carbon dioxide (CO2) evo­lution, microbial biomass, soil pH, skeletal muscle tissue carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) content and the calcula­tion of metabolic quotient (qCO2). Incubation temperature and skeletal muscle tissue quality had a significant effect on all of the measured process rates with 2 °C usually much lower than 12 and 22 °C. Cumulative CO2 evolution at 2, 12 and 22 °C equaled 252, 619 and 905 mg CO2, respectively. A significant correlation (P<0.001) was detected between cumulative CO2 evolution and tissue mass loss at all temperatures. Q10s for mass loss and CO2 evolution, which ranged from 1.19 to 3.95, were higher for the lower temperature range (Q10(2– 12 °C)>Q10(12–22 °C)) in the Ovis samples and lower for the low temperature range (Q10(2–12 °C)<Q10(12– 22 °C)) in the control samples. Metabolic quotient and the positive relationship between skeletal muscle tis­sue mass loss and cumulative CO2 evolution suggest that tissue decomposition was most efficient at 2 °C. These phenomena may be due to lower microbial catabolic requirements at lower temperature.

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