Plants & Soil, Bulletin No. 1

Tue Jun 3 08:58:20 EST 1997

I would like to thank Cathy Morris for introducing this topic to our discussion
group and also the several individuals (R.J. Palmer, et al) who have offered

The concept of biofilms in soils is certainly appealing.  Certainly in very
moist environments, biofilms abound.  In xeric environments, microorganisms are
more likely to be restricted to microcolonies.  Their distribution and
metabolism are probably influenced greatly by atmospheric condensation (dew),
and the small levels of adsorbed water in soil.  Dormancy is also a very likely
key to their long term survival in that growth will occur during rare periods
of precipitation.  A number of individuals have described microbial mat
communities on soil surfaces, even in arid regions.

I would like to propose a couple of questions:

1) Are microbial biofilms / microbial mats important to soil properties
(nutrition, moisture retention, ion movement through the soil, resistance of
soil to erosion, fertility)?

2) Should microbial biofilms be encouraged, and if so how?

Bob McLean
Southwest Texas State University
San Marcos, Tx 78666
(512)245-3365 phone
(512)245-8713 FAX
Email:  RM12 at

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