Soil stabilization by microbial activity

Paulse, Arnelia N. (Arnelia Natalie) (2003-03)

Thesis (MSc)--Stellenbosch University, 2003.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Microorganisms play an important role in the stability and maintenance of the ecosystem and in the condition of the soil. However, in their natural environment, microorganisms often experience changing and hostile conditions. They therefore need to be able to adapt physiologically and modify their micro-environment. Biofilm formation is one mechanism to establish favorable micro-environments. The extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) that are typically associated with biofilm formation may also have an impact on soil structure. The aim of this project was to evaluate the potential of microbial manipulation on EPS production and the possible impact thereof on soil structure in order to improve water retention. Specific objectives of this study included the screening of natural environments for EPS-producers, developing techniques to observe EPS production and accumulation in the pores between soil particles, measuring the effect of EPS production on soil water hydraulic gradient, as well as determining the fate and impact of EPS-producers when introduced to naturally-occurring soil microbial communities. Several environmental samples have been screened for EPS-producing microorganisms. Soil columns were then inoculated with these EPS-producers and the passage of 20 mlaliquots water through the columns measured at 3 or 4-day intervals. Microbes isolated from soil, through their EPS production capability proved to retain water more effectively than was the case for water-borne EPS-forming microbes. This phenomenon was further studied using flow cells, filled with soil and inoculated with the EPS-producers isolated from either soil or water. Fluorescence microscopy showed that the soil microbes produced EPS that clogged pores between sand particles more effectively. This clogging resulted in lowering the soil water hydraulic gradient. To evaluate the effect of EPS-producers on existing soil microbial communities, cell counts, Biolog™whole-community carbon utilization studies and T-RFLP (terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphism) analyses were performed. Shifts in the soil microbial community could not be readily seen by observing microbial numbers and T-RFLP-analysis, but was noticeable in carbon utilization patterns.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Mikroorganismes speel 'n belangrike rol in die stabiliteit en instandhouding van die ekosisteem en in die kondisie van die grond. In hul natuurlike omgewing ervaar mikroorganismes dikwels veranderlike en ongunstige toestande. Mikroorganismes het dus nodig om hulself fisiologies aan te pas en verander hul mikro-omgewing daarvolgens. Biofilm-vorming is een meganisme om gunstige mikro-omgewings te skep. Die ekstrasellulêre polimeriese produkte (EPP) wat tydens biofilm-vorming gevorm word, mag ook 'n impak hê op die grondstruktuur. Die doel van hierdie projek was om die potensiaal van mikrobiese manipulasie op EPP-vorming te evalueer asook die moontlike impak daarvan op grondstruktuur wat sodoende waterretensie kon bevorder. Die spesifieke doelwitte van hierdie studie het ingesluit die isolasie van EPPproduseerders vanuit natuurlike omgewings, die ontwikkeling van verskeie tegnieke waarvolgens EPP-produksie en die akkumulasie daarvan in die porieë tussen gronddeeltjies bestudeer kon word, die effek van EPP-produksie op hidrouliese gradiënt van grondwater en om die lot en impak wat EPP-produseerders op natuurlike grondmikrobiese populasies te bepaal. Verskeie grond- en watermonsters was getoets vir die voorkoms van EPP-produserende mikroorganismes. Grondkolomme is geïnokuleer met EPP-produseerders en die vloei van 20 ml-volumes water deur die kolomme is gemeet met 3 of 4-dag intervalle. Grond-geïsoleerde mikrobes het beter waterretensie tot gevolg gehad as water- geïsoleerde mikrobes. Hierdie verskynsel was verder bestudeer deur die gebruik van vloeiselle, gevul met grond of sand en geïnokuleer met EPP-produseerders geïsoleer vanuit grond of water. Fluoressensie mikroskopie het aangetoon dat grondmikrobes EPP produseer wat die porieë tussen gronddeeltjies meer effektief verstop. Dié verstopping het gelei tot die verlaging van die grondwater se hidrouliese gradiënt wat bepaal is deur die gebruik van die konstante-vlak bepalingsmetode. Om die effek van EPP-produseerders op bestaande mikrobiese populasies te bepaal, is seltellings, Biolog™ heel-gemeenskap koolstofverbruik studies en T-RFLP (terminale-restriksie fragment-lengte polimorfisme) analises uitgevoer. Veranderinge in die mikrobiese populasie kon nie geredelik bloot deur die bepaling van mikrobiese getalle en T-RFLP-analise waargeneem word nie, maar wel met die koolstofverbruikspatrone.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/53593
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