Nav: Home

Bacteria under your feet

January 18, 2018

Soil bacteria form the vast majority of the earth's live biomass and play a key role in our lives. They control core processes for the development of ecosystems such as soil fertility, which is essential for food production. They also influence carbon storage, with a direct impact on climate change. A pinch of soil contains thousands of species and millions of bacteria cells, and our knowledge about these organisms is still scarce.

"Most of the soil bacteria have not yet been described, they do not match with existing genetic records and have never been cultivated in the laboratory," explains Prof. Fernando T. Maestre, who has received EU grants through the European Research Council for his projects BIOCOM and BIODESERT. "In large part, today's results have been possible thanks to the initial support of the ERC. It allowed us to believe in our intuition, to think big and to launch a global field survey that has been fundamental for carry out this work, which is an important step forward in our understanding of the bacterial communities living in the world´s soils."

The new study helps to better understand the identity of these bacteria and more importantly, their role in the functionality of our ecosystems. The research findings show that 2% of the global species of bacteria - some 500 species - comprise about half of the bacterial populations in any soil on our planet. Some of these microbes appear to be extremely dominant and common in our soils. By studying their functioning, future research could shed light on the microbial communities of agricultural soils, helping to preserve their health and increase the food productivity.

To carry out this study, the researchers collected soils in 237 different locations in six continents, from desert areas to tropical forests or polar regions. Physical and chemical analyses, combined with DNA sequencing techniques, revealed the dominant species and their preference for certain soil and climate characteristics. "Our results indicate that we can predict groups of dominant bacteria in the soil using environmental information, which is a fundamental advance in order to prepare distribution maps of these organisms globally" says Prof. Maestre.
Researcher: Fernando Tomas Maestre Gil

Project: BIOCOM - Biotic community attributes and ecosystem functioning: implications for predicting and mitigating global change impacts
Host Institution: Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Spain -
ERC call: ERC-2009-StG
ERC Funding: €1,4 million

Project: BIODESERT - Project Biological feedbacks and ecosystem resilience under global change: a new perspective on dryland desertification
Host Institution: Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Spain -
ERC Call: ERC-2014-CoG
ERC funding: €1,9 million

European Research Council

Related Bacteria Articles:

Conducting shell for bacteria
Under anaerobic conditions, certain bacteria can produce electricity. This behavior can be exploited in microbial fuel cells, with a special focus on wastewater treatment schemes.
Controlling bacteria's necessary evil
Until now, scientists have only had a murky understanding of how these relationships arise.
Bacteria take a deadly risk to survive
Bacteria need mutations -- changes in their DNA code -- to survive under difficult circumstances.
How bacteria hunt other bacteria
A bacterial species that hunts other bacteria has attracted interest as a potential antibiotic, but exactly how this predator tracks down its prey has not been clear.
Chlamydia: How bacteria take over control
To survive in human cells, chlamydiae have a lot of tricks in store.
Stress may protect -- at least in bacteria
Antibiotics harm bacteria and stress them. Trimethoprim, an antibiotic, inhibits the growth of the bacterium Escherichia coli and induces a stress response.
'Pulling' bacteria out of blood
Magnets instead of antibiotics could provide a possible new treatment method for blood infection.
New findings detail how beneficial bacteria in the nose suppress pathogenic bacteria
Staphylococcus aureus is a common colonizer of the human body.
Understanding your bacteria
New insight into bacterial cell division could lead to advancements in the fight against harmful bacteria.
Bacteria are individualists
Cells respond differently to lack of nutrients.

Related Bacteria Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...