Archive | Soil Ecology

Iron-rich Soil May Feed Algae Blooms

BRISBANE, Australia, Jan. 29 (UPI) — Iron-rich red dirt may play a key role in massive algae blooms that form off Australia’s eastern coast during warmer months, scientists say.

The algae blooms smell bad, smother seagrass and kill fish, researchers at Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, said.

The researchers are studying Poona Creek on the Fraser Coast, which drains into Great Sandy Strait, a rich wetland for migratory birds, the university said in a release Thursday. The region’s soil is rich in iron, which is believed to contribute to algae blooms, though the exact mechanism has yet to be determined.

What is known is that one type of bacteria in the waterway dissolves iron, while another type of bacteria oxidizes iron, turning it into a insoluble form that settles on the bottom of the creek, researcher Lin Chaofeng said. Learning more about how the two types of bacteria interact could help mitigate the algae blooms, Lin said.

“It seems that these two bacteria usually balance each other out, but sometimes the balance is upset,” she said.

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Posted in Birds, Fish, Soil Ecology0 Comments

Soil Studies Find Antibiotic Resistance

NEWCASTLE, England, Dec. 28 (UPI) — Soil studies show antibiotic resistance in nature is growing despite tighter control over antibiotic use in medicine and agriculture, British scientists said.

Bacterial DNA taken from soil samples collected between 1940 and 2008 in the Netherlands revealed a rise in the level of antibiotic resistant genes, said David Graham, a professor at England’s Newcastle University.

Scientists fear a resistant gene in a harmless bacteria could be passed to a disease-causing pathogen, Graham said in this month’s issue of the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

“The big question,” Graham said, “is that with more stringent European regulations and greater emphasis on conservative antibiotic use in agriculture and medicine, why are antibiotic resistant gene levels still rising?”

Graham said he and his team expect to find similar results when they expand their study to include soil samples from other parts of the world.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Land & Soil, Other, Science, Space, & Technology, Soil Ecology0 Comments

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