Why is testing for soil microbes important?

August 3, 2020 – Soil microbes like bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes are important for many reasons. The Soil Science Society of America’s (SSSA) August 1st Soils Matter Blog explains all the benefits these microbes provide.

According to blogger Dwarika Bhattarai, “While soil microbes get energy from carbon present in soil, they also contribute to soil health. Bacteria have multiple functions such as decomposition of complex organic residues from plants or animals. They help break up these ‘leftovers’ into simpler plant-available forms. Some microbes that live in the root nodules of legumes, rhizobia, pull nitrogen from the air and make it available to plants. Other microbes convert organic nitrogen to plant available nitrate and ammonium forms.”

Actinomycetes are spore-forming bacteria. Not only are they responsible for producing the earthy smell of soil, they also decompose organic matter, inhibit the growth of plant pathogens in the root zones of plants, and they improve plant nutrient availability.

“Similarly, fungi help to decompose organic molecules to simpler molecules,” says Bhattarai. “Mycorrhizal fungi colonize plant roots and help transform phosphorus into a plant-usable form, and transport nutrients to the plant.”

Just like humans have skin to protect us from “outsiders,” soil microbes have a cell membrane. The membrane is made up of proteins and fatty acids, therefore you can detect microbes by measuring the fatty acid profile in soil.

To learn more about soil microbes, read the entire blog post: https://soilsmatter.wordpress.com/2020/08/01/why-is-testing-for-soil-microbes-important/

Follow SSSA on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SSSA.soils, Twitter at SSSA_Soils. SSSA has soils information on www.soils.org/discover-soils, for teachers at www.soils4teachers.org, and for students through 12th grade, www.soils4kids.org.

The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) is a progressive international scientific society that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global soils. Based in Madison, WI, and founded in 1936, SSSA is the professional home for 6,000+ members and 1,000+ certified professionals dedicated to advancing the field of soil science. The Society provides information about soils in relation to crop production, environmental quality, ecosystem sustainability, bioremediation, waste management, recycling, and wise land use.

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