Current issue: 53(4)
Dilution plate method was used in studying the density and composition of the microfungal populations of the organic layer of Scots pine forests, and the soil-plate method in studying the part of these populations decomposing cellulose. The media used were rose bengal agar (Martin’s medium for fungi) and cellulose medium.
The microfungal density depended to a considerable extent on the moisture content and temperature of the organic layer. Only the combination of relatively high moisture content and temperature, but neither of these factors alone, influenced considerably the microfungal population density. The correlation of the populations to the changes in this combined factor was stronger than the correlation to the seasonal variations of spring, summer and autumn.
The microfungal population consisted of only a few species. Mucor, Mortierella and Penicillium were the most common genera isolated from the rose bengal agar. The first and the last of these comprised almost 90% of the total population. For the Mucor fungi, increases in the moisture content up to the maximum values found (75%) were favourable; the Penicillium fungi, on the contrary, were intolerant of high moisture content.
Among the cellulose decomposing microfungi grown on cellulose medium, Trichoderma sp. was the most common; also, it formed the most colonies, tolerated the lowest temperatures, and was most efficient. The others were of the genera Pullularia, Verticillium, Scopulariopsis and Penicillium. In addition, there were some unidentified Phycomycetes fungi. Only the two first-mentioned caused observable changes in cellulose.
Quantitative investigation of bacteria in the humus is needed when the intensity of their function in decomposition in the soil is studied. In this study bacterial density of humus was measured using dilution plate method, which was subjected to thorough investigation. The method was chosen, despite its complexity, because it is quite consistent, each stage can be studied separately and the reliability can be tested. The aim of the study was to determine the best way to take samples so that the sample will represent the bacterial population as closely as possible, and to optimize homogenization and dilution of the sample and the assays.
On the basis of the results of the investigation, a procedure was developed for quantitative determination of aerobic bacteria in the humus by the dilution plate method. The paper recommends that subsamples are collected systematically from at least 25 different points. The moisture and temperature of the samples should remain similar to the natural environment until preparation of the dilution. The sample was homogenized with the Bühler homogenizer, which is constructed so that a certain degree of asepsis can be maintained and the speed of the apparatus can be regulated. The content of the mineral nutrients of the sample must be determined when choosing the way of homogenization to obtain the highest number of colonies per plate. The sample was diluted with either 0.1–0.01% peptone solution or 0.5% soil extract. The most advantageous degree of dilution was obtained by testing with the aid of Fisher’s dispersion index the probability of the Poisson distribution in the results.
During the summer and fall of 1966 changes brought about by urea, calcium ammonium nitrate, nitrate of lime, and ammonium sulphate were observed. Application of the fertilizers corresponded to 100 kg/N per hectare.
The effect of urea was immediate. The pH rose and the bacterial density increased to 20–30 times more than determined in the spring, while the microfungal density decreased to one third of the spring density. In the ammonium sulphate plot opposite changes occurred almost as rapidly as in the previous case. A gradually increasing biological activity observed after application of calcium ammonium nitrate and of lime fertilizers seemed almost the same for bacteria and microfungi. Both microbe groups displayed consistent quantitative growth. pH 4.3 was the limit of acidity below which the bacteria showed a tendency to decline and the microfungi to increase, while the opposite was true above this limit.
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This study elucidates the composition of the microfungal populations of the humus layer of tree forest types – Vaccinium type with Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), Myrtillus type with Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.) and Oxalis-Myrtillus type with birch (Betula sp.). The results indicate that the microfungi encountered in these sites bear close resemblances. The number of species increased but little towards the more fertile sites from VT to OMT. The main difference was limited to the quantitative relationships between the species.
The microfungal density in the humus layer was greatest in VT, and only slightly less in MT and OMT, in this order. In all the sampling areas, occurrence of the microfungi reached a maximum in the middle of summer, at a time when the maximum temperatures were registered in the humus. The quantitative abundance during the early autumn bears a relation to the yield of litter.
The microfungi most commonly encountered in all sampling areas were those of rapid growth, Mucor, Morierella and Penicillium species, along with Trichoderma, a little slower in growth, and actively decomposing cellulose. Mucor fungi, favouring moisture, were most abundant in the early summer and in the autumn. The Mortierella and Penicillium species, which survive dryness, were most abundant in the middle of the summer. The former is twice as common in MT and OMT than in VT, and the latter twice as common in VT as in OMT.
Scopulariopsis and Verticillium species were found regularly in MT and OMT. One Acremonium species was found almost exclusively in VT, and some Aspergillus and Mycogene in OMT alone. Sterilia mycelia was relatively abundant in MT and OMT in particular. Different kinds of yeast fungi were encountered generally in MT and OMT.
The PDF includes a summary in Finnish.