Milling of plant and soil material in plastic tubes, such as microcentrifuge tubes, over-estimates carbon (C) and under-estimates nitrogen (N) concentrations due to the introduction of polypropylene into milled samples, as identified using Fourier-transform infra-red spectroscopy.
This study compares C and N concentrations of roots and soil milled in microcentrifuge tubes versus stainless steel containers, demonstrating that a longer milling time, greater milling intensity, smaller sample size and inclusion of abrasive sample material all increase polypropylene contamination from plastic tubes leading to overestimation of C concentrations by up to 8 % (0.08 g g(-1)).
Erroneous estimations of C and N, and other analytes, must be assumed after milling in plastic tubes and milling methods should be adapted to minimise such error.
- Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy
- Microcentrifuge tubes