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Soil Science

About microscopic forms of life, including Bacteria, Archea, protozoans, algae and fungi. Topics relating to viruses, viroids and prions also belong here.

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Soil Science

Postby l0sthart » Tue May 13, 2008 1:01 pm

Hi all, i've got many doubts which are not cleared and i sincerely hoped that there will be replies to my questions posted. My questions are as follow:

1. How does the properties of soil (soil microbes, soil chemistry,etc.) affect the rate of decomposition of dead bodies? The bodies are not buried.

2. What are the microbes present in Sandy Soil, Potting Soil, Burnt Soil and Mixed Soil? How do they affect the rate of decomposition?

Hopefully, there will be replies of websites that maybe relevant and useful for me. Thanks all (:
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Postby canalon » Tue May 13, 2008 1:47 pm

1- I am not sure and I have no sources, but I suspect that if the body is not buried, the climate, insects and fauna might be much more significant to the decomposition process than the soil the body is lying on

2-There are probably thousands of different species in each of those soils. Using the web of science I can find thousands of papers on the subject, so It is hard to answer. You can probably search for "bacterial diversity soil" on your favorite paper research tool (pubmed or google scholar are good and free, but have some limitations) Although I suspect that if the soil was burnt there is likely very little diversity.
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Re: Soil Science

Postby l0sthart » Wed May 14, 2008 1:44 am

Thanks for your reply (: they are rather enlightening and useful =D I agreed with you for the first point, however its my fault that i did not mention that if its under controlled environment, as in only the corpse without any plants or anyting, den how will it be like? sorry ><
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Postby canalon » Wed May 14, 2008 1:18 pm

I really have no idea. And I suspect it would not be easy to test, at least in human, and not necessarily informative. forensic sciene (likely to look on the subject) would not want to count out the other factors.
My thoughts would be that:
-weather climate would be really important (in particular temperature and humidity)
-and that the intestinal and skin flora is mor likely to be directly invovled in the first stgaes of the decomposition than anything in the soil.
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Postby mkwaje » Mon May 19, 2008 1:29 pm

Normally, there are different microbial populations present in a particular soil type. Acidity or alkalinity of soil, for example, greatly changes soil microflora. Consider aeration, moisture content, temperature and pH. Fungi can generally grow in areas that are acidic like in forest soil; though some bacteria ca grow here as well. In rice fields where there is high moisture, there are likely very few fungi, so bacteria will most likely predominate. Thermophiles can be found in topsoil of exposed soil. A few centimeters below the soil, you'll find a more diverse environment. Consider also the absence or presence of nutrients, a burnt soil for example may contain a different soil composition than others. Will it contain higher carbon? how about nitrogen? A burnt forest soil will be different from a burnt desert soil. So the question should be qualified. A dead body in a desert, a swamp, on forest floor, on ricefields, on rocky soil, on taiga, will definitely have different decomposition rates based on current environmental conditions. But of course, where microorganisms survive, you'll have your decomposers since the human body is a very rich medium for many growing microorgansims.
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Re: Soil Science

Postby victor » Wed May 21, 2008 11:47 am

l0sthart wrote:Hi all, i've got many doubts which are not cleared and i sincerely hoped that there will be replies to my questions posted. My questions are as follow:

1. How does the properties of soil (soil microbes, soil chemistry,etc.) affect the rate of decomposition of dead bodies? The bodies are not buried.

2. What are the microbes present in Sandy Soil, Potting Soil, Burnt Soil and Mixed Soil? How do they affect the rate of decomposition?

Hopefully, there will be replies of websites that maybe relevant and useful for me. Thanks all (:


Hmm...as far as I know that rate of organic matter decomposition (dead body) is high in aerobic conditions. So, when the body is not buried, then the decomposition rate would be high. If we see the microbes that play roles there we can found that the number 1 must be Pseudomonas spp.
Then, if we see the microbe compositions in each soil, I can say that the rate of decomposition is affected by the C/N ratio in the soil. As we see that decomposition of organic matter have a purpose to release nitrogen as NH3 to the soil. So, soil with low C/N ratio like sandy loam will have a great decomposition rate. And once again, the tough warrior in this decomposition process is Pseudomonas spp. :lol:
* Man, I really like Pseudomonas :lol:

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Victor Apriel
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A: They have all the solutions.
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