Microbial Function

Soil microbial activity is a quantifiable reflection of soil functioning. Soil microbial activity is a general term that is used to indicate the vast range of activities carried out by microorganisms in soil, whereas biological activity reflects not only micro-bial activity but also the activities of other organisms in the soil, such as the meso-and macrofauna, including plant roots (Nannipieri et al. 1990). Although the two terms are conceptually different they are often confused. Various methods have been used to determine the microbiological activity of the soil (Fig. 9.3). Some of them measure the rates of entire metabolic processes. For instance, the emission of soil CO2 reflects the catabolic degradation of organic carbon under aerobic conditions; the net nitrification rate is the speed at which ammonia is oxidized to nitrate; thymidine incorporation represents the rate of DNA synthesis, and dehydrogenase activity measures the intracellular flux of electrons to O2 due to the activities of several intracellular enzymes that catalyze the transfer of hydrogen and electrons from one compound to another.

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Organic Gardeners Composting

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