Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 221–227 | Cite as

Influence of texture on habitable pore space and bacterial-protozoan populations in soil

  • P. M. Rutherford
  • N. G. Juma


Soil texture affects pore space, and bacterial and protozoan populations in soil. In the present study we tested the hypothesis that bacteria are more protected from protozoan predation in fine-textured soils than in coarse-textured soils because they have a larger volume of protected pore space available to them. The experiment consisted of three sterilized Orthic Black Chernozemic soils (silty clay, clay loam, and sandy loam) inoculated with bacteria, two treatments (with and without protozoa), and five sampling dates. The soils were amended with glucose and mineral N on day 0. On day 4 bacterial numbers in all three soils were approximately 3×109 g−1 soil. The greatest reduction in bacteria due to protozoan grazing occurred between day 4 and day 7. Compared to the treatment without protozoa, bacteria in the treatment with protozoa were reduced by 68, 50, and 75% in the silty clay, clay loam, and sandy loam, respectively. On day 4, 2 days after the protozoan inoculation, all protozoa were active. The numbers were 10330, 4760, and 15 380 g−1 soil for the silty clay, clay loam, and sandy loam, respectively. Between day 4 and day 7, the period of greatest bacterial decline, total protozoa increased greatly to 150480, 96160, and 192100 g−1 soil for the three soils, respectively. Most protozoa encysted by day 7. In all soils the addition of protozoa significantly increased CO2−C evolution per g soil relative to the treatment without protozoa. Our results support the hypothesis that bacteria are more protected from protozoan predation in fine-textured soils than in coarse-textured soils.

Key words

Predator-prey Soil structure Typic Cryoboroll Porosity Soil respiration Protozoan population 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. M. Rutherford
    • 1
  • N. G. Juma
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Soil ScienceUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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