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Quantifying the impact of microbes on soil structural development and behaviour in wet soils

Helliwell, J.R.; Miller, A.J.; Whalley, W.R.; Mooney, S.J.; Sturrock, Craig

Authors

J.R. Helliwell

A.J. Miller

W.R. Whalley

S.J. Mooney

Craig Sturrock



Abstract

There is evidence that microbial populations play an important role in altering soil pore geometry, but a full understanding of how this affects subsequent soil behaviour and function is still unclear. In particular the role of microorganisms in soil structural evolution and its consequence for pore morphological development is lacking. Using a combination of bio-chemical measurements and X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) imaging, a temporal comparison of microscale soil structural development in contrasting soil environments was made. The aim was to quantify the effect of microbial activity in the absence of other features likely to cause soil deformation (e.g. earthworms, roots etc.) on soil structural development in wet soils, defined by changes in the soil porous architecture i.e. pore connectivity, pore shape and pore volume during a 24 week period. Three contrasting soil textures were examined and changes compared between field soil, sterilised soil and a glucose enhanced soil treatment. Our results indicate that soil biota can significantly alter their microhabitat by changing soil pore geometry and connectivity, primarily through localised gaseous release. This demonstrates the ability of microorganisms to modify soil structure, and may help reveal the scope by which the microbial-rich rhizosphere can locally influence water and nutrient delivery to plant roots.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jul 1, 2014
Journal Soil Biology and Biochemistry
Print ISSN 0038-0717
Electronic ISSN 0038-0717
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 74
APA6 Citation Helliwell, J., Miller, A., Whalley, W., Mooney, S., & Sturrock, C. (2014). Quantifying the impact of microbes on soil structural development and behaviour in wet soils. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 74, doi:10.1016/j.soilbio.2014.03.009
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2014.03.009
Keywords Microorganisms; Microbial activity; Structure; Structural development; X-ray CT; Fracturing
Publisher URL http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0038071714000984
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0





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