W B Mcgill

Introduction

Metabolic Classifications of Soil Organisms

Examples of Soil Microbial Transformations

How Can the Microbial Contributions be Viewed in a

Simplified and Unified Concept?

References introduction

Green plants release O2 during photosynthesis. Decomposition consumes O2 and the cycle is complete. This is good. Why then has O2 accumulated in the earth's atmosphere? If O2 can accumulate, why is there not more of it? With an atmosphere having nearly 21% by volume of O2 in the atmosphere, why does all S not accumulate as SO4~, or N as NO3, which are the thermodynamically stable species of these elements? How is it that S2~ can be oxidized to S0 or SO|~ under anaerobic (i.e., reducing) conditions? How can highly aromatic compounds such as aniline be metabolized under anaerobic conditions, and why would such a capability develop in soils? Is it that many of the earth's functions do not make sense from a thermodynamic or mass balance perspective? Or do they? The answers arise from three things: first, the unique attributes of soils as habitats in which aerobic and anaerobic microsites coexist due to spatial heterogeneity over distances of millimeters or less (see Chaps. 2 and 8) and where aerobic and anaerobic conditions alternate over time. So both spatial and temporal changes in soil habitats are involved. Second, the unique range of physiological capabilities of soil organisms

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