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Re: Soil Bacteria assessment

M. Gundersheim,

      I recently completed, as my Masters thesis, a study of variables
associated with ginseng root rots caused by two fungi.  Microbial
functionnal diversity as assessed by examination of carbon substrate
utilization (CSU) using Biolog microtitre plates was one property included
in the study.  The objective was to attempt to "fingerprint" microbial
communities characteristic of suppressive soils.  Althought we did not
attain this objective within the limits of the project, the method shows
great potential. 

References you could have a look at if interested: 
Garland, J. L. and Mills, A. L. 1991.  Classification and characterization
of heterotrophic microbial communities on the basis of patterns of
community-level sole-carbon source utilization.  Applied and Environmental
Microbiology 57:2351-2359.

Garland, J. L. 1996.  Analytical approaches to the characterization of
samples of microbial communities using patterns of potential C source
utilization.  Soil Biology and Biochemistry 28:213-221.

Winding, A. 1994.  Fingerprinting  bacterial soil communites using Biolog
microtitre plates.  In Beyond the Biomass, K. Ritz, J. Dighton and K. E.
Giller editors, British Society of Soil Science, Wiley-Sayce Pub.

Zak, J. C., Willig, M. R., Moorhead, D. L., and Wildman, H. G. 1994. 
Functionnal diversity of microbial communities: a quantitative approach. 
Soil Biology and Biochemistry

Also two general textbooks about the study of microbes in soil:

Alef, K., and Nannipieri, P. 1995.  Methods in Applied Soil Microbiology
and Biochemistry.  Academic Press, Harcourt Brace & Company Publishers.

Bigham, J. M., and Mickelson, S. H. 1994.  Methods of Soil Analysis - Part
2: Microbiological and Biochemical Properties.  Number 5 in the Soil
Science Society of American Book Series.  

These two books explain a vast variety of methods to study the general
microbiology of soils as well as very specific organisms.  Techniques
ranging from simple plate counts to sophisticated molecular techniques.  

Hope this helps.

Francois Quesnel