Kerala

Kaipad soil rich in rare bacteria and fungi, says study

Scientists have found highly diverse and rare bacteria and fungi in the first comprehensive study on microbiological properties of soil in the Kaipad region in Kannur.

The study was done by the department of agricultural microbiology, College of Agriculture, Padannakad, Kerala Agriculture University, in collaboration with the department of soil science and agriculture chemistry to generate database on microbes in the Kaipad rice tract through a metagenomic approach. 

Elsevier journal published the study by Boby V. Unnikrishnan, Binitha N.K., and Mahesh Mohan. The study was conducted at Ezhome, part of the Kaipad rice tract. The work was done soon after harvest in December-January.

Speaking to The Hindu, Dr. Unnikrishnan, the lead author, said the study was aimed to understand microbial communities present in Kaipad rice lands, a region known for natural rice farming. “The information generated will be useful for studying variation in microbial communities impacted by climate change,” he added.  

Kaipad lands are known for rice cultivation without chemical inputs, and they contain rich organic matter owing to decaying rice stubbles and remnants of prawn cultivation after harvest. The abundance of organic matter and intrusion of saline water make a unique ecosystem with abundant microflora associated with the region. 

Dr. Unnikrishnan said the study had found an abundance of carbon-fixing cyanobacteria, sulphur, and iron-metabolising bacteria in the Kaipad tract. It was owing to the high content of carbon, sulphur, and iron in the Kaipad soil. Similarly, specific groups of violacein and germicidin antibiotic producers are characteristically highly in Kaipad, and these organisms can be isolated and cultured in the future.

Compared to the pokkali soil in central Kerala, Kaipad soil has very high salinity. 

The study also revealed a rare occurrence of smectite minerals in Kaipad soil. In addition, mica and gibbsite minerals were also observed. These minerals would have resulted in excess nutrient pools in soil which further favoured unique microbial communities in Kaipad lands, according to Dr. Unnikrishnan.


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Printable version | Aug 25, 2022 7:20:44 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kaipad-soil-rich-in-rare-bacteria-and-fungi-says-study/article65694112.ece