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.