The latest technical advances in microbial ecology have enabled a team from Inrae in Dijon to study the impact of human activities on French soils. TMCE is the first company to use this method to assess the impact of these products on soil microorganism communities.
MICROBIAL ECOLOGY IS BOOMING
Up until now, knowledge about the diversity of microorganisms was limited. However, microorganisms represent the most abundant and diverse living organisms on our planet. Thanks to technical advances in recent years, the study of soil microbial ecology has undergone a real revolution with the advent of molecular biology tools. These technical advances offer new perspectives for understanding the distribution of soil microorganism communities and their roles in the biological functioning of ecosystems.
In September 2018, TMCE asked Inrae to study the impact of its products on microbial interaction networks thanks to the new approach of co-occurrence networks. This study is based on soil samples and analysis of practices carried out on the experimental site of CRA-W in Gembloux, Belgium. The trial, conducted in collaboration with TMCE for 15 years, combines different agricultural practices (tillage, direct seeding, organic amendments vs. chemical fertilizers) and TMS fertilization.
ECOLOGICALLY MORE STABLE SOILS
Co-occurrence networks, like social networks, provide information on the ability of microorganisms to cooperate or compete to perform certain biological functions such as the humification of organic matter, the degradation of pollutants or the barrier effect to pathogens. Co-occurrence networks account for the complexity of interactions between populations of microorganisms and potentially for the stability and functioning of these communities
The analysis of co-occurrence networks, by the BIOCOM team, in the soils of the CRA-W site of Gembloux shows that the contribution of TMS doubles the number of interactions between microbial taxa. It thus brings the cultivated soils closer to the state of the forest soils, which are considered ecologically stable. The communities of microorganisms are more closely related in the plots fertilized with TMS than in the control plots. They are less isolated metabolically and physically and therefore more resilient.
Balance microbial flora
This new approach to co-occurrence networks underlines the importance of regulating the soil flora to promote the interactions of microorganisms. What is important is not the biomass, nor the diversity, but the structure of the microbial community. A balanced microbial flora, in which the interactions within the communities are developed, fulfils important biological functions for soil life. More information in our last “Autrement dit” or by contacting the technician near you.