Characteristic soil smell?

Bruce A. Caldwell caldwelb at
Wed Sep 27 15:00:01 EST 2000

The most common of several related compounds giving the 'earth' smell is
geosmin, released by a wide variety of actinomycetes (Streptomycetes), some
cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), and beets.

Bruce Caldwell
Forest Science
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR  97331-5752

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,
> --
> Kate Blum Orman <korman at>
> "I have no idea what that meant." - Dot Warner

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