Characteristic soil smell?

Bruce A. Caldwell caldwelb at
Tue Oct 3 17:59:21 EST 2000

The Perry information is a bit off; forest soils harbor tens of thousands to
millions actinomycetes per cubic centimeter!  In some ecomycorrhizal mats,
populations can reach several million per gram. The problem is that being
spore-formers, you can't distinguish which CFU came from hyphae and which came
from spores.

Bruce Caldwell
Forest Science
Oregon State University

truffler1635 at wrote:

> In article <8qpidi$30l$1 at>,
>   korman at (Kate Orman) wrote:
> > I hope you'll forgive this intrusion - I'm a science fiction writer and a
> > former microbiology student, racking my brains to remember something one
> > of my lecturers once said! Apparently there's a particular soil microbe
> > which gives soil its characteristic smell. I'd like to mention it in a
> > story I'm writing, but I can't remember the organism's name for the life
> > of me, and my research hasn't turned it up. I'd be most grateful for any
> > help!
> >
> > Cheers,
> >
> > --
> Good luck, Kate. According to Dr. David Perry, a single cubic foot of
> soil contains some 15,000 such microbes. I am unaware of a single-smell
> any particular organism may exude (except potassium cyanide seems to be
> common: burnt almonds).
> However, many soil fungi _do_ have rather distinctive smells, which are
> often clues to their fruiting about this time of year. Ones that I find
> particularly identifiable are matsutake (Tricholoma magnilevare);
> chanterelles (Cantharellus formosus) and Hydnellum peckii (Peck's
> Hydnum), and truffles (Tuber, Leucangium, Picoa, Hydnotrya sps). Several
> fungi also have strong, floral scents, similar to hyacinths or cinnamon.
> Daniel B. Wheeler
> Sent via
> Before you buy.

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