Soil bacteria are important components of the ecosystem. They help improve soil structure and aggregation, as well as recycle soil nutrients and water. Soil bacteria also serve as decomposers that consume carbon compounds and provide large quantities of nitrogen to plants.
Nitrogen is a major component of chlorophyll and is essential for the production of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Although nitrogen is abundantly present in nature, it can only be found in small quantities in the soil. Hence, the ability of soil bacteria to process nitrogen is important for plant growth.
Because of their many important functions, the movement of bacteria in soil is a topic of interest among researchers. For instance, knowledge of microbial transport in soil is needed for bioremediation purposes, especially of subsurface polluted zones and contaminated groundwater. The mobilization of soil microbes is also important for plant nutrition.
In a recent study, German researchers investigated how certain bacterial populations present in soil mobilize after dynamic hydraulic events. They found that rain has a huge influence on the composition of soil microbial communities, as well as the amount of carbon in different layers of soil. The researchers discussed their findings in an article published in the journal Soil Biology and Biochemistry.
The impact of hydraulic events on soil bacterial communities
According to the researchers, substantial amounts of organic matter are mobilized during extreme precipitation events, resulting in fluxes in carbon from the topsoil to deeper mineral soil and groundwater. This organic matter, called mobile organic matter (MOM), also consists of soil microbes. Organic matter is not only important for plant nutrition, but it also binds soil particles into aggregates and helps improve soil water-holding capacity.
A previous study showed that specific bacteria associated with the rhizosphere — the area around a plant root inhabited by a unique population of microorganisms — of
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