Physical constraints affecting bacterial habitats and activity in unsaturated porous media – a review

We review specific features and adaptations of microbial life to the particular conditions of terrestrial soil environments

D. Or


Scholarcy highlights

  • The immense diversity of microbial life found in the vadose zone reflects the extremely heterogeneous and highly dynamic aquatic and chemical environments formed within soil pore spaces
  • The notion of planktonian free swimming microbes is unrealistic under most unsaturated conditions
  • Experimental and theoretical evidence suggests that surface attachment is the prevailing lifestyle, where bacterial colonies are embedded in biosynthesized extracellular polymeric substances
  • The EPS matrix serves as the interface with the environment; it enhances hydration and transport properties in the immediate vicinity of microbial cells, and dampens effects of highly transient fluctuations in water and nutrient fluxes
  • The primary effect of soil pore geometry and hydration status is on diffusion pathways to and away from stationary microbial colonies
  • This review is an attempt to establish an interdisciplinary dialogue between hydrologists and microbiologists towards a quantitative integration of the role of hydrologic conditions on microbial activity and the role of microbiology in controlling macroscopic fluxes within this important compartment of the biosphere

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