Soils: The Final Frontier: Questions (2006)

Here are some questions that have arisen in our discussions:

  1. Freshwater invertebrate communities are well developed as indicators of the "health" of stream ecosystems. Why are there not comparable biotic indicator systems for soils?
  2. Does soil microbial community structure matter to biogeochemical cycling at the ecosystem scale?
  3. When enviromental conditions become unfavourable, bacteria can go into a sporulation phase to achieve dormancy. What are the internal and external controls on this process for soil bacteria?
  4. Can all soil bacterial species achieve dormancy?
  5. What is the relationship between rate of change in an environmental stress factor, and the proportion of the bacterial community that achieve dormancy?
  6. Is spore production an analagous method by which fungi achieve dormancy?
  7. Under conditions of carbon limitation in soil microbes, what determines the balance between allocation to exoenzyme production and allocation to maintenance respiration?
  8. What is the adaptive significance of "overflow metabolism" in soil microbes?
  9. Dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) uptake by plants (either directly or via mycorrhizae) seems to be more common in mid-high latitude environments than in the tropics. Is part of the reason for this that DON pools are relatively large in these regions?
  10. Do bacterial populations reach the 'stationary growth phase' in nature?

Created 8th February 2006 by P. Grogan
Last Updated: 30th March 2006