Soil Stabilisation by Microbial Activity

Project Number

Project title
Soil stabilisation by microbial activity

Project leader
Wolfaardt, G M

University of Stellenbosch. Department of Microbiology

Team members
Paulse, A N

Project description
The interactions between microbes and the chemical, physical and biological components in the soil environment are studied, primarily to evaluate the role of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), produced by the microbes, in soil texture and structure. The overall goal of this research is to develop approaches for the biotechnological improvement of agricultural, and specifically, vineyard soils. Through the manipulation of indigenous microbial communities, and the extracellular polymers that they produce, soil texture and water holding capacity can be better managed. Because naturally-occurring microbes are used, this technology does not pose a danger to ecosystem health. A direct benefit to agriculture is water preservation. Furthermore, this project involves establishment of a soil microbiology group to interact with the wine industry, especially with regard to soil micro-biota and ecosystem health.

The specific objectives of the research are:
– to isolate and enumerate naturally-occurring EPS producing microbes from soils,
– to use laboratory scale systems for evaluating the effect of different nutrients, compatible with viticulture, on EPS production,
– to evaluate criteria to evaluate soil improvement through directed microbial activity, and
– to contribute to sustainable agriculture.

Botha, A, Wolfaardt, G M, Conradie, W J, Louw, P J E, Botha, G and Cornelissen, S. 2000. The impact of copper on soil microbial populations. Paper presented at the 15th BioY2K and 11th Congress of the South African Society for Microbiology. Grahamstown, South Africa.

Wolfaardt, G M and Botha, A. 2000. Microbial responses to copper on soil. Paper presented at the 50th Meeting of the Canadian Society of Microbiologists. 11-14 June, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.

Wolfaardt, G M. 2001. Terrestrial biofilm communities. Paper presented at the American Society for Microbiology. 20-24 May, Orlando, Florida, United States.

Paulse, A N, Wolfaardt, G M and Van Huyssteen, L. 2002. Soil stabilisation by microbial activity. Paper presented at the 12th Congress of the South African Society for Microbiology. South Africa.

Paulse, A N, Wolfaardt, G M and Van Huyssteen, L. 2002. Stabilisation by microbial activity. Paper presented at 3rd International Virology and Microbiology Conference. 2-5 April, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa.


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