Norton, Jeanette Department of Plants, Soils and Biometeorology, Utah State University, Logan, Utah.
Last reviewed:September 2018
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- Ecological roles
- Biotechnology and soil microorganisms
- Methods for study
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The study of biota that inhabit the soil and the processes that they mediate. Soil is a complex environment (Fig. 1) colonized by an immense diversity of microorganisms. As such, soil microbiology is concerned with the investigation of the microorganisms in soil, their functions, and the effect of their activities on the character of the soil and the growth and health of plant life. In particular, soil microbiology focuses on soil viruses, bacteria, fungi, and protozoa; in addition, it often includes examinations of other soil animals, such as nematodes (roundworms), mites, and various microarthropods. All of these organisms, collectively referred to as the soil biota, function in a belowground ecosystem based on plant roots and litter as food sources. See also: Bacteria; Ecological communities; Ecology; Ecosystem; Fungi; Microbiology; Nemata (Nematoda); Plant; Plant growth; Plant mineral nutrition; Protozoa; Soil; Soil chemistry; Soil ecology; Soil fertility; Virus
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