In this work “The diversity of fungi in potting soil”. The effective microbiological standard method was used to isolate fungi from four different potted soil samples from four different sites in Owerri, Imo State.
An appropriate result was obtained after the inoculation and the incubation in which some fungal growth were observed in macroscopic which are; Aspergillus spp, Geotrichum spp, Penicillium spp., Mucor spp., Trichosporon spp.
In conclusion, some fungi are very harmful i.e. they can cause food spoilage, they can also cause disease to plants, animals and even man.
In recommendation, potting soils are good inhabitation of fungi and also good sites for the isolation of various fungi which are useful for both agricultural and industrial purpose and they also provide mankind with very useful pharmaceutical products like antibiotics.
Soil can be defined as the organic and inorganic materials on the surface of the earth that provide medium for plant growth. Soil develops slowly over time and is composed of many different materials (C.H Robinson, & Beckett, J.; 1997). Inorganic materials, or those materials that are not living which include weathered rocks and minerals. The rocks are broken down into smaller pieces through chemical process known as weathering. As the rocks are broken down, they mix with organic materials, which are those materials that originate from living organisms. (I.A Torsvik et al.,). For example, plants and animals die and decompose, releasing nutrients back into the soil.
1.1.1 TYPES OF SOIL
There are three basic types of soil: sand, silt and clay. But, most soils are composed of a combination of the different types. How they mix will determine the texture of the soil i.e how the soil looks and feels.
Sand is actually particles of weathered rock. Sand is fairly coarse and loose to enable water drain through it easily. While this soil is good for drainage, it is not good to grow plants with because it will neither hold water nor hold nutrients.
Silt is another type of soil that is fine and can hold water better than sand.
Clay is a very fine grained soil. Its parties are even smaller than that of silt, so there is very little space between the fine grains for air or water to circulate. Therefore, clay does not drain well or provide space for plant roots to flourish.
Now, we can consider loamy as the fourth type of soil because it is the combination of sand, silt and clay.
1.1.2 SOIL STRUCTURE AND TEXTURE
The knowledge we acquired in the study of the types of soil told us about the soil texture, which really comes down to the size of the particles and how much of each particles is present.
The soil structure is based on the arrangement of individual particles of sand, silt and clay. When these individual soil particles bound together, they form soil aggregated. (I.A Torsvik et al).
1.2 IMPORTANCE OF SOIL
Soil is very important in the following aspects:
Soil has vital nutrients for plants. As a result, it is used in agriculture to nourish plants. The roots of a plant receive nutrients from the soil to help it grow. (Molin; 1997)
Clay soil can be used in making ceramics, or pottery. When water is added to clay soil, it can be used to create the ceramics. Once formed, allow it to dry and it will retain its shape. Some types of ceramics that can be created with clay soil are vase, cup, bowl etc. (Molin; 1997).
Soil is an important part of the building process. Soil compaction increases the density of the soil, the purpose is to improve the load support. If not done, structural failure can result. Soil can also be used as building materials such as red bricks (Molin; 1997).
1.3 MICROOGANISMS IN SOIL
Soils are the naturally physical covering of the earth’s surfaces and represent the interface of three material states. Solids (geological and dead biological materials), liquids (water), and gases (air in soil pores).(Dighton J., H.E Jones, et al; 1997).
Soil microbes, bacteria, archaea, and fungi play diverse roles in these ecosystem services. The rest metabolic diversity of soil microbes means their activities in the soil and functions of soil ecosystems as well as the ability of soils to provide services to mankind (Wall, A., 1999).
Bacteria and archaea are the smallest independently living. Single-celled organisms on earth. Typical cells range from 0.5 to 1.0um in diameter. Bacteria and archaea may occur as cocci, rods, or spirals. Bacteria are extremely metabolically diverse and can be divided into four groups, based on their source of carbon and their source of energy.
Photoautotrophs: like cyanobacteria photosynthesis, obtaining energy from sunlight and carbon by fixing carbon di oxide.
Photo heterotrophs: they derive energy from photosynthesis if provided with an election donor (hydrogen or an organic compound) for reductive assimilation of carbon dioxide.
Chemoautotrophs: they use reduced inorganic substrates to fix carbon dioxide and as a source of energy.
Chemo heterotrophs: they require pre-formed organic molecules as their source of both carbon and energy.
Fungi are extremely diverse and their unique life-history strategies allow them to serve a wide variety of ecological roles, for example decomposers, mutualists, endophytes of plants, pathogens, and even predators (Wall, A.; 1999). Fungal hyphae are foundational components of soil food webs because they are forage for grazing soil biota. Fungalsporocarps are also important foods for larger animals. While fungi perform a vast diversity of functions, some functional groups of fungi have particular importance in soil ecosystems: the saprotrophs, the mycorrhizas (lindahl, R.; 2001). The saprotrophic fungi produce a wide range enzymes, including amylases, protease, lipases, and phosphatases. These enzymes are produced by hyphae at the front of the mycelium as it grows through its substrate. Saprotrophic fungi increase the biomass and diversity of soils and play a critical role in decomposition.
The mycorrhizal fungi form mutual beneficial symbiotic associations with living plant roots. The symbiosis is based on the exchange of resources: the plant receives soil nutrients from the fungus and the plant provides sugar as a source of carbon to the fungus.
1.4 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The present study was carried out to:
- To isolate and enumerate the different species of fungi found in potting soil.
- To determine the fungal load of potting soil.
- To assess and compare the composition, abundance and diversity of fungi in selected potting soil samples.
- To compare the diversity of fungi in potting soil and in control soil.
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