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Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2005 Oct;62(2):230-48.

The use of microorganisms in ecological soil classification and assessment concepts.

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Department of Environmental Chemistry and Microbiology, National Environmental Research Institute (NERI), Frederiksborgvej 399, P.O. Box 358, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark.


Microbial communities are integral parts of soil and their activity is very important to the functioning of soil. Therefore, microorganisms should be included in soil quality classification and assessment concepts. The challenges of using microbial indicators are to identify the best choice among the many techniques available to assess soil quality and to convert the information obtained from the microbial indicator into a form relevant for policy makers. In this article, we present a wide range of possible microbial indicators, some of them standardized; each provides slightly different information on soil quality. Experience with the use of indicators for assessment of microbial communities and soil quality is discussed. At present, as many microbial indicators as possible should be included to gain experience. At a minimum, measures of microbial biomass, respiration, and N mineralization and a community profiling method (e.g., DGGE, PLFA, or CLPP) should be included.

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