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Inputs Alter Microbial Life

Microbial life in the soil. "E coli at 10000x, original" by Photo by Eric Erbe, digital colorization by Christopher Pooley, both of USDA, ARS, EMU. - This image was released by the Agricultural Research Service, the research agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, with the ID K11077-1.New research from Iowa State University shows that agricultural inputs such as nitrogen and phosphorus alter soil microbial communities. Adding nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers, commonly used as fertilizers, to the soil shifts the natural communities of fungi, bacteria and microscopic organisms called archaea that live in the soil, said Kirsten Hofmockel, associate professor.

Hofmockel and other scientists associated with the Nutrient Network, a global group of scientists, revealed that microbial community responses to fertilizer inputs were globally consistent and reflected plan responses to the inputs. Many soil microbes perform helpful functions in the native ecosystems and altering those microbial communities may have negative environmental consequences, Hofmockel said. The researchers found nutrient additions favored fast-growing bacteria and decreased the abundance of fungi that share a symbiotic relationships with grassland plants. This encapsulation of the research is from the December 2015 issue of Acres U.S.A.