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Biochar as a habitat for microorganisms in soil, especially arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
This study aims to determine the role of biochar in soil as a habitat for soil organisms and its effects on growth and functioning of AM fungi (AMF)and other microbial activities. Biochar may improve the ability of beneficial microorganisms, including AMF, to increase the efficiency of plant nutrient acquisition. Combinations of biochar and AMF may provide an alternative approach to improve the microbial activities and nutrient status in soil.
In this project, biochar properties will be investigated in relation to its suitability as habitat for survival and growth of soil microorganisms, including AMF supported by high resolution microscopy techniques. This investigation will provide information on the suitability of biochar as a microbial habitat in soil, which will then be extended further to determine whether biochar also promotes microbial and mycorrhizal activities.
In-depth knowledge of how biochar might alter the growth, survival and activities of soil microorganism is relevant to practical applications of biochar within farming systems. The role of biochar in influencing beneficial soil microorganisms is not well understood. It is possible that soil amendments such as biochar may improve the ability of beneficial microorganisms, such as AM fungi, to increase the efficiency of plant nutrient acquisition. This research will extend current understanding of the mechanisms by which non-nutrient soil amendments such as biochar, influence the soil habitat of AM fungi and other microorganisms. Such knowledge may provide a more confident basis for decision-making when managing organic inputs to soil.