Submitted to: Advances in Agroecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 1, 1997
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Since the 1980's, species extinction has been recognized as a key global issue. Biological diversity includes the variety of species in an ecosystem as well as the genetic variability within each species. Microbial diversity is one factor which controls agroecosystem productivity and quality. Without microorganisms and their biochemical processes, life on earth would not be possible. Microbial diversity can directly influenc plant productivity and diversity by influencing plant growth and development, plant competition and nutrient and water uptake. Microbial diversity is critical to ecosystem functioning due to the diversity of processes for which microbes are responsible, such as decomposition and nutrient cycling, soil aggregation and pathogenicity. It is necessary for us to increase our knowledge of biotic and functional diversity to better understand the desired level of microbial diversity and the optimum management practices for the agroecosystem. This research investigates th microbial diversity in soil to 1) gain an understanding of the diversity in agroecosystems and to use this information to assist in the development of best management practices.
Technical Abstract: The diversity of microorganisms is greater than any other group of organisms on the earth, but our knowledge of the diversity and genetic wealth in these groups is limited. Microorganisms are key to the integrated functioning of nutrient cycles and decomposition, soil structure and plant growth in agricultural systems. Research is needed to increase our understanding of the diversity and function of microbial communities i agroecosystems. In agroecosystems, microbial diversity will influence all the other levels within the ecosystem by functions such as those involved in nitrogen and carbon cycling, soil structure maintenance, and biological control. We investigated soil microbial diversity to to identify the level of microbial diversity, species composition and distribution and the resiliency of the community to withstand stress and maintain a quality ecosystem. We need to determine the extent of microbial diversity in agroecosystems and increase our knowledge of the functional roles of microbes to assess their role in agroecosystem quality and productivity.