Understanding microbes blowing in the wind

decrease font size  Resize text   increase font size       Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

With help from a wind tunnel and the latest DNA technology, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists are shedding light on the travel patterns of microbes in soils carried off by strong winds. The work has implications for soil health and could lead to management practices that minimize the damage to soils caused by wind erosion.

Wind erosion is an emerging issue in soil conservation efforts. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have been studying wind-eroded soils since the 1930s, but few studies have focused on the effects of wind on the bacteria, fungi, and protozoa in the soil. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.

Researchers see an increasing need to focus on pathogens and agriculturally important bacteria carried in dust. ARS soil scientist Veronica Acosta-Martinez, with the agency's Wind Erosion and Water Conservation Unit in Lubbock, Texas, focused on bacterial populations that could be classified by DNA sequencing. She worked with Terrence Gardner, a visiting scientist from Alabama A&M University.

Researchers collected airborne dust and samples of a type of organic soil susceptible to wind erosion from fields where potatoes, beets and onions had grown a few years earlier and exposed them to windy conditions using a portable wind tunnel. They characterized the bacteria they found in both the "source soils" and the wind-eroded sediments, focusing on types of bacteria associated with coarse particles and on the types associated with fine dust particles.

They classified the bacteria found in each type of soil and wind-eroded sediment using pyrosequencing, a process that allowed them to identify up to 100 times more DNA in each sample than they would have detected with traditional methods. The study results, published online in the Journal of Environmental Quality, showed that certain types of bacteria, known as Bacteroidetes, were more predominant in the fine dust. Other types, known as Proteobacteria, were more predominant in coarse sediments.

Studies have shown that Bacteroidetes resist desiccation and thus can survive in extreme conditions when carried long distances. The fact that Proteobacteria were associated with coarse eroded sediments, which travel shorter distances, may explain how soils can retain important qualities despite damaging winds. Proteobacteria play an important role in carbon and nitrogen cycling, and their fate in dust storms will be the focus of future research, according to Acosta-Martinez.

Read more about this research in the February 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.


Buyers Guide

Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Co.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing prides themselves as being “The King of the Rotary’s” with their Direct Drive Rotary Blend Systems. With numerous setup possibilities and sizes, ranging from a  more...
A.J. Sackett Sons & Company
Sackett Blend Towers feature the H.I.M, High Intensity Mixer, the next generation of blending and coating technology which supports Precision Fertilizer Blending®. Its unique design allows  more...
R&R Manufacturing Inc.
The R&R Minuteman Blend System is the original proven performer. Fast, precise blending with a compact foot print. Significantly lower horsepower requirement. Low inload height with large  more...
Junge Control Inc.
Junge Control Inc. creates state-of-the-art product blending and measuring solutions that allow you to totally maximize operating efficiency with amazing accuracy and repeatability, superior  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The flagship blending system for the Layco product line is the fully automated Layco DW System™. The advanced technology of the Layco DW (Declining Weight) system results in a blending  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides a new level of coating accuracy for a stand-alone coating system or for coating (impregnating) in an automated blending system. The unique  more...
John Deere
The DN345 Drawn Dry Spreader can carry more than 12 tons of fertilizer and 17.5 tons of lime. Designed to operate at field speeds up to 20 MPH with full loads and the G4 spreader uniformly  more...
Force Unlimited
The Pro-Force is a multi-purpose spreader with a wider apron and steeper sides. Our Pro-Force has the most aggressive 30” spinner on the market, and is capable of spreading higher rates of  more...
BBI Spreaders
MagnaSpread 2 & MagnaSpread 3 — With BBI’s patented multi-bin technology, these spreaders operate multiple hoppers guided by independent, variable-rate technology. These models are built on  more...


Comments (0) Leave a comment 

Name
e-Mail (required)
Location

Comment:

characters left


LPV Seed Treater

The LPV Seed Treater has set a new standard boasting three configurable weighing methods for any-sized operation, a standard 42” ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Feedback Form