Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Loss of biodiversity limits toxin degradation

Date:
January 16, 2014
Source:
Wiley
Summary:
You might not think of microbes when you consider biodiversity, but it turns out that even a moderate loss of less than 5 percent of soil microbes may compromise some key ecosystem functions and could lead to lower degradation of toxins in the environment.

You might not think of microbes when you consider biodiversity, but it turns out that even a moderate loss of less than 5% of soil microbes may compromise some key ecosystem functions and could lead to lower degradation of toxins in the environment.

Research published today in the SfAM journal, Environmental Microbiology, reports that without a rich diversity of soil bacteria, specialized functions such as the removal of pesticide residues are not as effective.

Dr Brajesh Singh of the University of Western Sydney led the work, he said "If the ability of the ecosystem to remove toxins from the environment is reduced, there will be higher toxicity risks in the environment and for non-target organisms, including humans, from agricultural chemicals. It is likely that these contaminants will remain at higher levels in surface and underground water, as well. It is vital to gain a better understanding of the extent to which soil bacteria are involved in the removal of contaminants."

The reasons for, and extent of, the decline in microbial diversity in agricultural soils is likely to be complex. The team has looked specifically at long-term heavy metal pollution where metals such as cadmium, zinc, and copper build up in the environment, usually as a result of industrial use. Another source is from digested sewage sludge, which is spread in agriculture fields to supply nutrients to crops and improve soil fertility; the sludge has historically contained some heavy metals, which can become concentrated in the soil.

Although the concentration of heavy metal used this study was higher than the current EU limit, this study has confirmed that long-term exposure to such contaminants does reduce the diversity of bacteria in the soil.

With the global population set to reach nine billion by 2050, we face a challenge to feed an extra two billion mouths using the same resources that we have at present. Crop losses to pests and disease account for a large percentage of under-production and so giving up pesticides will be difficult. Similarly, the use of sludge as a fertilizer is likely to become more prevalent. Research like this allows us to understand better how to use important agrichemicals and waste products in a sustainable way and so will contribute to future food and environmental security.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Brajesh K. Singh, Christopher Quince, Catriona A. Macdonald, Amit Khachane, Nadine Thomas, Waleed Abu Al-Soud, Sψren J. Sψrensen, Zhili He, Duncan White, Alex Sinclair, Bill Crooks, Jizhong Zhou, Colin D. Campbell. Loss of microbial diversity in soils is coincident with reductions in some specialized functions. Environmental Microbiology, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.12353

Cite This Page:

Wiley. "Loss of biodiversity limits toxin degradation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140116113313.htm>.
Wiley. (2014, January 16). Loss of biodiversity limits toxin degradation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140116113313.htm
Wiley. "Loss of biodiversity limits toxin degradation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140116113313.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) — A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
What's To Blame For Worst Ebola Outbreak In History?

What's To Blame For Worst Ebola Outbreak In History?

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — A U.S. doctor has tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus, as the worst-ever outbreak continues to grow. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — The New York Times has officially endorsed the legalization of marijuana, but why now, and to what end? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins