The effects of pesticides on the diversity of culturable soil bacteria

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Abstract

The numbers of culturable soil bacteria in plots that had received either no pesticides or the full combination (aldicarb, chlorfenvinphos, benomyl, glyphosate, plus chlorotoluron or triadimefon) over a 20 year period were compared. Differences were very small although there were consistently higher numbers on the treated plot, possibly reflecting the greater crop yields which had been reported previously. There was no significant difference in numbers of bacterial colonies with homology to a nif gene probe in soils from the two plots. Genetic fingerprinting of Pseudomonas fluorescens isolates from the plots, using ERIC-PCR, showed that the dominant strains in the two populations were not the same although there was no obvious difference in the degree of diversity. Substrate utilization by microbial populations from the two plots was compared using Biolog plates. The population from the pesticide-treated plot showed a higher rate of substrate utilization which could reflect a slightly higher inoculum of heterotrophic bacteria, but could also indicate greater metabolic diversity in the population.

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