Agronomy Library > Soil Conservation

Soil Biology – Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi in Agricultural Soils - Direct Seeding Advantage 2006
Author: Chantal Hamel - Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada
Date Created: November 22, 2006
Last Reviewed: March 01, 2007

The soil offers protection against harmful radiation and desiccation, and large surface area for support and nutrient exchange. It is highly favourable to life, which proliferates abundantly in its environment. In soil, life occurs in the form of numerous minute organisms embedded in the soil matrix and invisible to the naked eye. At the microbial scale, the soil matrix is highly heterogeneous, a condition favouring the emergence of biodiversity and, by far, most of the biological diversity of planet Earth is contained in soil. Soil biodiversity is tremendous with 5000-10000 species of microorganisms per gram (Wardle et al. 2004), and it is also dynamic,
with high mutation frequency and plasmid exchange in bacteria, and random nuclei distribution in the thallus of coenocytic fungi. The world of interactions that are intertwined in all this biodiversity is modulated by the physico-chemical environment of the soil, which varies with weather conditions, seasons, and cropping systems. Complexity in the pedosphere is just mind boggling. The soil is, definitely, the last frontier in science. The main approach to the discovery of the soil has been to concentrate efforts on dominant or key functional groups of organisms. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), the topic of this presentation, constitute one of these
groups.

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