Importance of Microbial Diversity in Soil
Soil flora contains a wide range of microbial strains that are dependent on several factors such as soil pH, depth, organic matter, oxygen and carbon dioxide content, porosity, etc. The function of soil (in managed or natural environments) is maintained by microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. These microorganisms are involved in essential processes such as the formation of soil structure, organic matter decomposition, toxin removal and nutrient (e.g., nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon and sulfur) recycling. Additional soil roles include plant growth promotion, vegetation generation and suppression of soilborne diseases. Microorganisms in soil have a significant effect on vegetation through competitive, neutral, exploitative, commensal and mutualistic interactions. A balance of these effects should be maintained through a healthy diversity and abundance of microorganisms to promote plant growth and eliminate pathogenic effects such as disease. Studies on the interaction of microbial diversity and abundance in soil habitats, those which could be used as indicators of ecosystem health, are becoming an increasing area of interest.
Research and Practice in Soil Microbiology
Traditionally, microorganism diversity and abundance in soil have been analyzed using culture, viability methods and flow cytometry. However, the limits of these methods have been a limiting factor in exploring soil microbiomes and their impact on agriculture health and practices. CMDC Labs provides strategies for analyzing soil that allow us to provide clients with microorganism information about their soil including the types and abundance of microorganisms. PCR, next-generation sequencing (NGS) (16S/18S/ITS) and long-read sequencing techniques are used to identify, quantify and characterize microorganisms (both culturable and unculturable) present in soil or other growth mediums. Our strategies provide an accurate and detailed analysis for characterizing microorganism diversity and individual quantification. CMDC Labs’ analytical techniques allow us to identify populations down to the genus or species level (depending on soil complexity and bacterial diversity) and study the population dynamics of microorganisms. By understanding soil microbiota population composition and how the compositions might change under various conditions, we have helped our clients in the food and agricultural sectors and other farm-related industries improve the growth and yield of their soil.
What Can CMDC Labs Do?
- Identify soil microbiomes
- Determine abundance and quantification of soil microorganisms
- Illuminate evolutionary relationships of flora in soil
- Track and study relationships between soil flora and the environment
- Track and study relationships between soil microbiomes and the human/animal gut
- Identify relationships between altering soil properties or cycling soil nutrients and communities of soil microorganism compositions and their effects on vegetation
Note: Our service is for research use only, not for disease diagnosis or treatment.
Sample Submission Requirements
- DNA sample: DNA ≥ 300 ng, concentration ≥ 10 ng/ul, and OD260/280 = 1.8-2.0
- Ensure the sample is intact and has not become degraded
- Do not let the sample repeatedly freeze and/or thaw
- Use ice packs or dry ice to preserve the sample submission
CMDC Labs’ state-of-the-art scientific equipment produces reliable and comprehensive data. Results of tests are presented in easily read reports that highlight crucial, client-specific information. The client will be able to cross-analyze soil microbiology data with plant tissue data to glean an understanding of not only how crops and seeds are performing, but also the unrealized soil’s potential.
Analysis of Samples
The client’s soil can be characterized according to the abundance or activity of microorganisms therein and, in turn, provide insights regarding the ecosystem of the soil and its relative health. Soil samples sent to CMDC Labs will be analyzed according to client specifications for the abundance and types of beneficial and detrimental microorganisms (e.g., bacteria, fungi).
Bacteria and Fungi
Bacterial and fungal microorganisms both play crucial functions in soil. Soil systems with heavy bacterial loads are associated with extensive agricultural production. Numerous vital nutritional and health services are performed by bacteria in the soil. Microorganisms can adapt to a variety of micro-environments within soil and change their nature to benefit suitable plant communities. Bacteria assist in the following:
- Soil structure and nutritional improvement
- Soil nutrient recycling
- Water recycling
Fungi also participate in the health and maintenance of soil. Natural soil systems typically have high fungal loads. Nutrients, essential for protecting vegetation from disease and predators, are highly retained by fungi. High fungal loads assist in the following:
- Water recycling
- Soil nutrient dynamics
- Containment of disease
Together, bacteria and fungi work to improve soil conditions. Both act to provide important decomposition pathways necessary for the function of soil that includes conversion of difficult-to-digest organic material into nourishment that can be utilized by other organisms. Uniquely different yet also as necessary, bacteria and fungi assist the soil most regarding crop performance when their ratio is approximately 1:1. An even ratio and high load of bacteria and fungi allow optimal nutrient cycling which, in turn, guarantees the following:
- Proper bacterial and fungal populations in soil
- Maintenance of soil water penetration and storage capacity
- Accessibility of plant-soluble nutrients in soil
Soil environments with deficient bacterial and fungal densities are biologically insufficient and could be amended with a variety of organic enhancements, such as probiotics.