Preface

Soil microbiology traditionally has been the study of microorganisms and their processes in soil. The interaction of organisms with each other and their environments involves soil ecology. Soil biochemistry includes microbial processes, soil enzymes, and the formation and turnover of soil organic matter. Soil, in the nonengineering definition, is usually defined as the surface of the earth affected by plant roots, even though life, especially that of microorganisms, occurs at great depths in geological deposits, caves, and sediments. Although the organisms involved are often different, their ecological and abiotic controls and the products of their metabolism have great similarities in all locations. Thus, there is now a recognized similarity and interaction with soil and biogeochemical studies in marine and fresh water systems, sediments, and the atmosphere. What we know from these processes on earth will also guide future extraterrestrial investigations and, as a result, the number of people interested in this field has greatly increased. The textbook "Soil Microbiology and Biochemistry" by Paul and Clark (1989, 1996) is available in Chinese and Korean translations. It has been incorporated into the teaching of engineering, biogeochemistry, ecology, and general biology in a variety of university departments, including those of private, undergraduate, and teaching universities, and is widely used in many research applications.

The biological processes that occur in soil are intertwined with and inseparable from activities of the soil fauna, which feed on plants, soil microorganisms, and litter. Their larger forms act as environmental engineers through their soil-mixing functions. They also contain microbial endophytes that carry out much of their decomposition function. The name of this edited volume has been changed to reflect its broader applicability and has been expanded to include both more basic and applied approaches. Soil microbiology, ecology, and biochemistry are being used in a broad range of applications from agronomy, plant pathology, general ecology, microbial ecology, engineering, organic agriculture, forestry, range management, and global change. We have thus included chapters on invertebrate-microbial interactions, basic physiology, and ecological interpretations. Information on the management of microorganisms and their reactions has been expanded while we have strived to retain readability, conciseness, and a reasonable cost.

The definition of microbiology is usually associated with organisms not seen without the use of a microscope, although this does not apply to many fungal lichen and algal growth forms. The communal structure of the Armillaria associated with tree roots in a number of areas is hectares in size, although it is still a fungus by definition. The soil fauna also range in size and diversity. This book reflects the great advances in molecular techniques, the broader use of tracers, and the maturation of modeling in interpretation of data and development of new concepts. We finally know enough about our field to be able to impact management of such modern problems as biodiversity, biological invasions, global change, ecosystem services, sustainable agriculture, and urban ecosystems. This textbook has been designed to provide access to necessary knowledge for those working in these diverse fields. The authors of the individual chapters hope that the readers will find this a readable, accessible introduction to both the concepts involved and the background literature.

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