Soil Health refers to the ecological equilibrium and the functionality of a soil and its capacity to maintain a well balanced ecosystem with high biodiversity above and below surface, and productivity. To understand and use soil health as a tool for sustainability, physical, chemical, and biological properties must be employed to verify which respond to the soil use and management within a desired timescale. Attributes with a rapid response to natural or anthropogenic actions are considered good indicators of soil health. Among the physical indicators, soil texture, aggregation, moisture, porosity, and bulk density have been used, while among chemical indicators total C and N, mineral nutrients, organic matter, cation exchange capacity, among others are well established. However, most of them generally have a slow response, when compared to the biological ones, such as microbial biomass C and N, biodiversity, soil enzymes, soil respiration, etc., in addition to macro and mesofauna. Thus, a systemic approach based on different kinds of indicators (physical, chemical and biological) in assessing soil health would be safer than using only one kind of attribute. Many human activities have caused desertification, loss of biodiversity, disruption of aggregates, loss of organic matter and nutrients, among others. Today, it is imperious to maintain soil health and productivity with increasing emphasis on reforestation and recuperation of degraded areas through the use of organic amendments, reintroduction of plants, soil fauna and microorganisms. This review focused on an integrative view on indicators of soil health to be used as tools for prediction of sustainability in production systems.
Ecotoxicological laboratory tests (lower-tier tests) are fundamental tools for assessing the toxicity of pesticides to soil organisms. In this study, using these tests under tropical conditions, we quantified the impact of the insecticides imidacloprid, fipronil, and thiametoxam, and the fungicides captan and carboxin+thiram, all of which are used in the chemical treatment of crop seeds, on the survival, reproduction, and behavior of Eisenia andrei (Oligochaeta). With the exception of imidacloprid, none of the pesticides tested caused mortality in E. andrei in artificial soils. The LC(50) of imidacloprid was estimated as 25.53 mg active ingredient kg(-1) of dry soil. Earthworm reproduction rates were reduced by imidacloprid (EC(50)=4.07 mgkg(-1)), fipronil (EC(20)=23.16 mgkg(-1)), carboxin+thiram (EC(50)=56.38 mgkg(-1)), captan (EC(50)=334.84 mgkg(-1)), and thiametoxam (EC(50)=791.99 mgkg(-1)). Avoidance behavior was observed in the presence of imidacloprid (AC(50)=0.11 mgkg(-1)), captan (AC(50)=33.54 mgkg(-1)), carboxin+thiram (AC(50)=60.32 mgkg(-1)), and thiametoxam (AC(50)=>20 mgkg(-1)). Earthworms showed a preference for soils with the insecticide fipronil. Imidacloprid was the most toxic of the substances tested for E. andrei. The avoidance test was the most sensitive test for most pesticides studied, but results varied between pesticides. These results offer new insights on the toxicity of pesticides used to treat seeds in tropical regions. However, they should be complemented with higher-tier tests in order to reduce the uncertainties in risk assessment.
Our knowledge of the rhizosphere bacterial communities in deep soils and the role of Eucalyptus and Acacia on the structure of these communities remains very limited. In this study, we targeted the bacterial community along a depth profile (0 to 800 cm) and compared community structure in monospecific or mixed plantations of Acacia mangium and Eucalyptus grandis. We applied quantitative PCR (qPCR) and sequence the V6 region of the 16S rRNA gene to characterize composition of bacterial communities. We identified a decrease in bacterial abundance with soil depth, and differences in community patterns between monospecific and mixed cultivations. Sequence analysis indicated a prevalent effect of soil depth on bacterial communities in the mixed plant cultivation system, and a remarkable differentiation of bacterial communities in areas solely cultivated with Eucalyptus. The groups most influenced by soil depth were Proteobacteria and Acidobacteria (more frequent in samples between 0 and 300 cm). The predominant bacterial groups differentially displayed in the monospecific stands of Eucalyptus were Firmicutes and Proteobacteria. Our results suggest that the addition of an N2-fixing tree in a monospecific cultivation system modulates bacterial community composition even at a great depth. We conclude that co-cultivation systems may represent a key strategy to improve soil resources and to establish more sustainable cultivation of Eucalyptus in Brazil.
Araucaria angustifolia, a unique species of this genus that occurs naturally in Brazil, has a high socio-economic and environmental value and is critically endangered of extinction, since it has been submitted to intense predatory exploitation during the last century. Root-associated bacteria from A. angustifolia were isolated, selected and characterized for their biotechnological potential of growth promotion and biocontrol of plant pathogenic fungi. Ninety-seven strains were isolated and subjected to chemical tests. All isolates presented at least one positive feature, characterizing them as potential PGPR. Eighteen isolates produced indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), 27 were able to solubilize inorganic phosphate, 21 isolates were presumable diazotrophs, with pellicle formation in nitrogen-free culture medium, 83 were phosphatases producers, 37 were positive for siderophores and 45 endospore-forming isolates were antagonistic to Fusarium oxysporum, a pathogen of conifers. We also observed the presence of bacterial strains with multiple beneficial mechanisms of action. Analyzing the fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) and partial sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene of these isolates, it was possible to characterize the most effective isolates as belonging to Bacillaceae (9 isolates), Enterobacteriaceae (11) and Pseudomonadaceae (1). As far as we know, this is the first study to include the species Ewingella americana as a PGPR.
O estudo da macrofauna do solo em áreas com Araucaria angustifolia é importante para entender os processos edáficos que ocorrem nestes ecossistemas, já que esses animais atuam na decomposição e mineralização da matéria orgânica e na manutenção da estrutura do solo. O presente estudo teve o objetivo de avaliar, em áreas com araucária naturais e reflorestadas, impactadas ou não pela queima acidental, o potencial indicador da macrofauna edáfica e de variáveis ambientais (químicas e microbiológicas do solo) para separar as áreas, por meio da análise canônica discriminante (ACD). As áreas estudadas incluíram: floresta nativa com araucária, reflorestamento de araucária, reflorestamento de araucária submetido a incêndio acidental, e campo nativo com araucárias nativas e ocorrência de incêndio. Em cada área, dez amostras de solo foram coletadas, próximo a dez árvores de araucária selecionadas ao acaso, em três épocas contrastantes, usando o método de escavação e triagem manual de monólitos (TSBF). Observou-se um impacto importante da intervenção antrópica sobre os atributos biológicos e químicos do solo. A macrofauna edáfica apresentou potencial para ser usada como indicadora da qualidade do solo. Os grupos Diplopoda, Chilopoda, Isoptera e Araneae, e biomassa da macrofauna, índice de diversidade de Shannon (H), matéria seca total da serapilheira, fósforo e atributos microbiológicos, especialmente carbono da biomassa microbiana e respiração basal foram os responsáveis por praticamente toda a separação entre as áreas, sendo bons indicadores das modificações que ocorreram nos ecossistemas. A contribuição de cada atributo para separar as vieras teve efeito da sazonalidade.
In nature, orchids are fully dependent on mycorrhizal fungi to germinate their seeds. These fungi can penetrate root cells and form pelotons, hyphal coils responsible for providing simple sugars for the orchid embryo. During the achlorophyllous seedling stage, orchids depend on fungi; and some species remain dependent through life, while others establish photosynthesis but, to varying degrees, remain facultatively dependent or responsive to fungal colonization as adults. The aim of this study was to identify how many clades of fungi can establish mycorrhizal associations with Coppensia doniana, a widespread orchid in Campos do Jordão (Brazil) and to demonstrate how morphological features can be useful to group and identify these fungi. Plants were collected during the dry season of 2009 near Campos do Jordão State Park. Fungi were isolated by transferring root segments containing pelotons to media. Three main clades of fungi were formed by either qualitative or quantitative morphological data. We identified these fungi as two morphotypes of Ceratorhiza (anamorphic stage of Ceratobasidium) and one uninucleate Rhizoctonia. The internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequencing data corroborated the morphological features showing the same three clades; all isolates showed a high similarity with Ceratobasidium ITS sequences in GenBank. Thus, it was possible to demonstrate a high affinity between this orchid species of Oncidiinae and Ceratobasidium. Morphological data associated with multivariate statistics proved to be a useful tool in multilevel taxonomy of these orchid-associated fungi.Abstract in Portuguese is available in the online version of this article.
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