Teaming with Microbes:
There are up to 50 earthworms in a square foot of good soil
A mere teaspoon of good garden soil contains a billion invisible bacteria, several yards of equally invisible fungal hyphae, several thousand protozoa, and a few dozen nematodes.
A great deal of the energy that results from photosynthesis in the leaves is actually used by plants to produce chemicals they secrete through their roots. [Exudates].
Root exudates are in the form of carbohydrates and proteins. Their presence wakes up, attracts, and grows specific beneficial bacteria and fungi living in the soil.
At the bottom of the soil food web are bacteria and fungi, which are attracted to and consume plant root exudates. In turn, they attract and are eaten by bigger microbes, specifically nematodes and protozoa.
At the center of any viable soil food web are plants. Plants control the food web for their own benefit.
That is: plants are active in controlling their environment – cognition!
pg 46 > Actinomycetes are different from other soil bacteria: they actually grow filaments, almost like fungal hyphae. Some scientists believe *Streptomyces sepcies use their branching filaments to connect soil particles so they , along with the soil particles, become too big to be eaten by their natural predators, the protozoan cilates, which would engulf and ingest them.
Teaming with Nutrients:
Why is nitrogen so important? It is (pg 98):
the backbonze of amino acids, the structural building blocks of proteins. Enzymes are proteins. These catalysts are required for all activities in the cell.
Nitrogen is also an essential part of the chlorophyll molecule.
And why is soil bacteria so important?
Unfortunately, atmospheric nitrogen (N_2) is off limits to plants because nitrogen atoms form extremly strong, triple covalent bonds with each other. Until the early 1900s, when chemists solved this puzzle, atmospheric nitrogen bonds could only be broken by biological means via bacteria and Archaea.