Fungal diversity in cotton growing and brigalow vertisols of Eastern Australia.

 

David Midgley

 

Microbial communities in vertisolic soils of eastern Australia are very poorly characterised. To date, no studies have attempted to characterise these communities by either above ground counts of fruiting bodies or molecular based assessments of below-ground diversity. This is despite the significant economic and ecological importance of the soils of north-eastern region of New South Wales. The region supports intenstive production of cotton and a range of other economically important crops, and additionally hosts remnant stands of brigalow (Acacia harpophylla) woodland, a vegetation community that is listed as endangered in the Australian governments Environmental Act of 1999.

In our research we use a range of molecular, PCR-based methods to assess community diversity of soil Archaea, bacteria and fungi. The diversity and composition of microbial communities was found to differ in soils under differing land management regimes. The ecological implications of such differences are discussed with reference to a biological ‘soil health’ concept.