Microbial Activity in the Soil

Topics: Nitrogen, Soil, Soil biology Pages: 10 (2763 words) Published: April 30, 2013

“An Essay Explaining the Biochemical Processes that Occur During Decomposition in the Soil Using Organisms such as Bacteria, Fungi and Algae. It also Involves an Analysis of the Chemical Reactions Facilitated, Processes Involved, Mineralization and the Role(s) of Organic and Inorganic Compounds.”


Alicea Bigby-Smart
ID #: 12480025
Montego Bay Community College
Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements of the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica for the Award of the Bachelors of Science Degree in Environmental Studies.

Lecturer: Mrs. Shaun deSouza

Date of Submission: April 20, 2013

Many biochemical processes occur within the soil environment as a result of decomposition activities. These activities are facilitated by a number of organisms such as bacteria, fungi and algae. These biochemical processes include a lot of chemical reactions, mineralization etc. and involves organic and inorganic compounds. | Decomposition in the soil is the natural process of dead animal or plant tissue being rotted or broken down. The result of | |decomposition is that the building blocks required for life can be recycled. | |Decomposers are organisms whose ecological function involves the recycling of nutrients by performing the natural process of decomposition | |as they feed on dead or decaying organisms. They are the primary agents involved in decomposition in the soil. They play an important role | |in the formation  of soil organic matter by degrading energy rich organic compounds and, in the process, by generating | |more refractory materials such as humus. | |Examples of decomposers in the soil are fungi, algae and bacteria that obtain their nutrients from dead plant or animal material. They break| |down cells of dead plants and animals into simpler substances, which become organic nutrients available to the ecosystem. | |The rate of decomposition is affected by soil temperature, moisture and food availability. The main by-products of the decomposition process| |are soluble plant nutrients and microbial remains that bind the soil particles together, giving a stable crumb structure. The decomposers | |are most active in the upper layer of the soil, that is the top 8 cm (3 in). | |Amongst the different microorganisms inhabiting in the soil, bacteria are the most abundant and predominant organisms. These are primitive, | |prokaryotic, microscopic and unicellular microorganisms without chlorophyll. Bacteria belong to the kingdom Monera and can be either | |autotrophic or heterotrophic and can be both aerobic and anaerobic. They have evolved mechanisms to adapt to life in the most extreme of | |environments. Due to their diversity they play many roles in the soil and are involved in all of the organic transactions. | |Bacteria bring about a number of changes and biochemical transformations in the soil and thereby directly or indirectly help in the | |nutrition of higher plants growing in the soil. The important transformations and processes in which soil bacteria play a vital role are: | |decomposition of cellulose and other carbohydrates, and mineralization of nutrients such as, ammonification (proteins- ammonia), | |nitrification (ammonia-nitrites-nitrates), denitrification (release of free elemental nitrogen), oxidation and reduction of sulphur and iron| |compounds. All these processes play a significant role in plant nutrition. | |Ammonification is the conversion of biological nitrogen compounds into ammonia (NH3) and ammonium ions...
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