Soil Life - Bacteria


Bacteria are single-cell organisms and the most numerous denizens of agriculture, with populations ranging from 100 million to 3 billion in a gram. They are capable of very rapid reproduction by binary fission (dividing into two) in favourable conditions. One bacterium is capable of producing 16 million more in just 24 hours. Most soil bacteria live close to plant roots and are often referred to as rhizobacteria. Bacteria live in soil water, including the film of moisture surrounding soil particles, and some are able to swim by means of flagella. The majority of the beneficial soil-dwelling bacteria need oxygen (and are thus termed aerobic bacteria), whilst those that do not require air are referred to as anaerobic, and tend to cause putrefaction of dead organic matter. Aerobic bacteria are most active in a soil that is moist (but not saturated, as this will deprive aerobic bacteria of the air that they require), and neutral soil pH, and where there is plenty of food (carbohydrates and micronutrients from organic matter) available. Hostile conditions will not completely kill bacteria; rather, the bacteria will stop growing and get into a dormant stage, and those individuals with pro-adaptive mutations may compete better in the new conditions. Some gram-positive bacteria produce spores in order to wait for more favourable circumstances, and gram-negative bacteria get into a "nonculturable" stage. Bacteria are colonized by persistent viral agents (bacteriophages) that determine gene word order in bacterial host.

From the organic gardener's point of view, the important roles that bacteria play are:

Read more about this topic:  Soil Life

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Famous quotes containing the word bacteria:

    To the eyes of a god, mankind must appear as a species of bacteria which multiply and become progressively virulent whenever they find themselves in a congenial culture, and whose activity diminishes until they disappear completely as soon as proper measures are taken to sterilise them.
    Aleister Crowley (1875–1947)