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Applied Soil Ecology
Volume 155, 2020, 103663

Soil nutrition, microbial composition and associated soil enzyme activities in KwaZulu-Natal grasslands and savannah ecosystems soils

Ntuthuko S.Zungua, Samson O.Egbewaleb, Ademola O.Olanirana,b, MaríaPérez-Fernándezc, Anathi Magadlelaa,d

School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, 3209 Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Abstract

Successful agriculture is dependent on soil quality and nutrition. Soil is the primary source of nutrients that are assimilated by plant root-systems to promote plant growth and development. The availability of these soil nutrients is regulated by factors such as pH, microbial composition and soil nutrient enzyme activities in ecosystem soils. This study aim was to determine the nutrition, microbe composition, and soil enzyme activities in four soils from different KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) grassland and savannah ecosystems. The four sites were found to differ significantly in their physical, chemical and biological properties. Microorganisms identified in the soils were from the families Bacillaceae, Hypocreaceae, Mucoraceae, and Nectriaceae. Bacterial and fungal genera identified among these soils showed varying diversity and species richness. Bergville soils had the lowest pH, cation exchange capacity, micro, and macro nutrient concentrations. Furthermore, Bergville soils showed reduced asparaginase and lignin peroxidase activities and had the lowest dehydrogenase activities. Therefore Bergville soils showed the minimum geochemical properties which may affect the growth of grassland and savannah ecosystem vegetation and sustainable agricultural practices.

Keywords: Successful agriculture, Soil quality, Grassland and savannah ecosystems, Microbial composition.

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