The Soil Microbiota
The Biological Engine of the Earth
Soil bacteria and fungi are responsible for many ecosystem functions such as plant growth regulation, nutrient cycling and carbon sequestration. Additionally, soil microbes have the ability to degrade environmental pollutants, such as PAHs and PCBs, through the use of targeted enzymes and modification of their cell membranes to incorporate breakdown products from these chemicals.
Soil bacteria and fungi, including Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF), are highly sensitive to soil-altering processes (degradative or beneficial) and changes can guide appropriate management procedures (conservation or restoration). Through better understanding of the soil microbial community structure and function, including the information provided by crucial soil lipid analysis studies, appropriate steps can be taken to maintain and improve overall ecosystem health, as well as improve crop productivity.