WASHINGTON — Soil organisms are diverse, with characteristics that can astound. The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) October 15 Soils Matter blog post explains which soil critters glow—and why.
“Soils are one of the most diverse habitats on Earth,” says Yamina Pressler, a soil scientist at Colorado State University. “Soil ecologists have estimated that we have only identified about 1% of all the microorganism species living in the soil! There is so much life still to discover below ground, and the organisms we have identified continue to amaze us – some of them even glow.”
Why do they glow?
Bacteria may glow to get noticed—and get spread further through the food chain. They may also use their glow to signal to other bacteria.
Fungi luminescence is more common than bacterial luminescence in soils. Their glow may attract insects who will carry the fungi’s reproductive spores further afield. They may also use a glow as a defense mechanism.
Collembola, or springtails, are microscopic arthropods that live in soils and leaf litter. The reason they glow? Still unknown! “While it might be hard to believe that an organism would glow for no real reason, we cannot rule it out completely,” Pressler says.
To read the entire blog post, visit https://soilsmatter.wordpress.
—Soil Science Society of American
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