Microscopic observations of bacterial sorption in soil cores
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Bacterial cells may be immobilized in soil through adsorption to a variety of soil particles. These associations affect the interaction of native soil microbes with their nutrient sources and control at least in part the distribution of foreign bacteria entering the soil system. To observe the relationship between soil structure and adsorption of amended bacterial cells, a series of intact cores of Freehold fine sandy loam were inoculated with suspensions of Arthrobacter crystallopoietes cells at concentrations ranging from 106 to 108 cells per ml. The cells were cultivated in a glucose-based medium to induce spherical cell formation. Following inoculation, the soil cores were rinsed with sterile water (30–40 ml h–1), flushed with thiazine red R to stain the bacterial cells, and then prepared for examination by common micromorphological techniques. The use of fluorescence, polarizing, and reflected light microscopy of soil thin sections, allowed direct, qualitative determinations of microbial distribution and associations with soil components. A. crystallopoietes cells were detected throughout the length of the soil columns. Soil pores did not appear to be clogged by the spherical A. crystallopoietes cells. Adsorption of amended bacteria was governed by the presence of both variably charged mineral oxides and organic matter within the intergrain microaggregates and occurred along coated mineral surfaces. Amendment of non-inoculated soil columns with 0.2% (w/v) solution of glucose demonstrated that the staining and sectioning procedure was sufficiently sensitive to detect growth of indigenous bacterial populations and their distributions within the soil matrix.
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