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1 June 1997

Fate and activity of microorganisms introduced into soil


Introduced microorganisms are potentially powerful agents for manipulation of processes and/or components in soil. Fields of application include enhancement of crop growth, protection of crops against plant-pathogenic organisms, stimulation of biodegradation of xenobiotic compounds (bioaugmentation), and improvement of soil structure. Inoculation of soils has already been applied for decades, but it has often yielded inconsistent or disappointing results. This is caused mainly by a commonly observed rapid decline in inoculant population activity following introduction into soil, i.e., a decline of the numbers of inoculant cells and/or a decline of the (average) activity per cell. In this review, we discuss the available information on the effects of key factors that determine the fate and activity of microorganisms introduced into soil, with emphasis on bacteria. The factors addressed include the physiological status of the inoculant cells, the biotic and abiotic interactions in soil, soil properties, and substrate availability. Finally, we address the possibilities available to effectively manipulate the fate and activity of introduced microorganisms in relation to the main areas of their application.

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Published In

cover image Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews
Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews
Volume 61Number 2June 1997
Pages: 121 - 135
PubMed: 9184007


Published online: 1 June 1997


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J A van Veen
IPO-DLO, GW Wageningen, The Netherlands.
L S van Overbeek
IPO-DLO, GW Wageningen, The Netherlands.
J D van Elsas
IPO-DLO, GW Wageningen, The Netherlands.

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