Extracellular Enzyme Activity assay as indicator of soil microbial functional diversity and activity Niels Bohse Hendriksen, Anne Winding. Department of Environmental Science, Aarhus University, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark Soil enzymes originate from a variety of organisms, notably fungi and bacteria and especially hydrolytic extracellular enzymes are of pivotal importance for decomposition of organic substrates and biogeochemical cycling. Their activity reflects the functional diversity and activity of the microorganisms involved in decomposition processes which are essential processes for soil functioning and soil ecosystem services. The soil enzyme activity has been measured by the use of fluorogenic model substrates e.g. methylumbelliferyl (MUF) substrates for a number of enzymes involved in the degradation of polysaccharides as cellulose, hemicellulose and chitin, while degradation of proteins has been followed by amino-methyl-coumaric substrates (AMC). The already developed Extracellular Enzyme Activity (EEA) assay was further optimized as a microwell based assay for the activity of enzymes involved in degradation of polysaccharides and proteins. Using specific MUF and AMC substrates on European soils, experimental conditions of extraction of enzymes from soils, buffer and pH, substrate concentration, temperature and the necessary controls were optimized and standardized. This has resulted in an optimized standard operating procedure of EEA, which are being tested as an indicator of soil functional diversity in a soil transect across Europe with >80 sites sampled during fall 2012.