Characteristic soil smell?

truffler1635 at truffler1635 at
Thu Oct 5 17:27:11 EST 2000

In article <39D8E4F4.496FC4A at>,
  "Bruce A. Caldwell" <caldwelb at> wrote:
> 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
Oops, of course you are right Bruce (said truffler, backpedelling like
mad). I was actually talking about soil organisms such as copepods,
pseudoscorpions, millipededes, nematodes, etc. While the abundance of
actinomycete fungi is greater than I realized (any ideas how many species
those millions of ascos represent?), the work Dr. Perry was doing was on
mobile soil organisms rather than soil fungi.

I apologize to the group for the inadvertent bushism, and my dyspepsic
speech (or is that dyslexic speech and dyspepsic ulcer?).

BTW, it occurs to me that a good soil scientist or mycologists
specializing in soil fungi could _really_ increase the counts of
BioBlitzs, such as the recently held one at Champoeg Park. For those of
us still challenged by yesterday's unknown Cortinarius sps, such
knowledge may be _years_ away at a minimum!

Daniel B. Wheeler

> 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.

Sent via
Before you buy.

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