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The Microbiology Of Natural Soils

T. C. Balser, D. Wixon, Lindsey K. Moritz, L. Lipps
Published 2010 · Geography

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Soil microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, control ecosystem functioning through decomposition and nutrient cycling and may serve as indicators of land-use change and ecosystem health (Doran and Zeiss 2000; Waldrop et al. 2000; Yao et al. 2000). However, the study of soil microorganisms is difficult and our current understanding limited. The sheer number, astonishing diversity and small size of these communities become more apparent as our technologies to explore them have improved in recent years (Cardon and Gage 2006). With the rapid rise of molecular techniques, microbial ecologists are now able to walk through the world with the equivalent of the naturalist’s “field notebook,” cataloguing and classifying species. However, we often do not know what they do functionally or ecologically, or why they are found in some soils and not others (Balser et al. 2006). What we do know is that soil microbial communities are dynamic and diverse (Sylvia et al. 2005) almost beyond measure (Schloss and Handelsman 2006), and that some patterns seem to hold on a global scale.
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