Soil microbial community dynamics

As well as storing vast amounts of carbon, soils provide many ‘services’ that rely on processes where organic matter is transformed and largest agent of soil ecosystem services is the soil microbial community (SOM). Small molecule and/or stable isotopic approaches enable the composition and functional activity of SOM to be characterised and, importantly, quantified thereby enabling fundamental molecular processes (e.g. methane oxidation, nitrate uptake, environmental response changes) to be studied in depth. Understanding how compounds behave in complex ecosystems such as soil, is vital if we are to develop models to help inform land management and agricultural practices.

Further reading

Bull, I. D., Parekh, N. R., Hall, G. H., Ineson, P. and Evershed, R. P. 2000. Detection and classification of methane oxidizing bacteria in soil. Nature 405, 175-178.

Charteris, A. F., Knowles, T. D. J., Michaelides, K., & Evershed, R. P. (2016). Compound-specific amino acid 15N stable isotope probing of nitrogen assimilation by the soil microbial biomass using gas chromatography/combustion/isotope ratio mass spectrometry. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 30, 1846-1856.

Zelles, L. (1999) Fatty acid patterns of phospholipids and lipopolysaccharides in the characterisation of microbial communities in soil: a review. Biology and Fertility of Soils  29, 111-129.


Image of some soil microbes
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