Researchers found extensive regions in which the addition of nitrogen or iron individually resulted in no significant phytoplankton growth over 48 hours. However, the addition of both nitrogen and iron increased concentrations of chlorophyll a by up to approximately 40-fold, led to diatom proliferation, and reduced community diversity. Once nitrogen–iron co-limitation had been alleviated, the addition of cobalt or cobalt-containing vitamin B12 could further enhance chlorophyll a yields by up to threefold. Results suggest that nitrogen–iron co-limitation is pervasive in the ocean, with other micronutrients also approaching co-deficiency. Such multi-nutrient limitations potentially increase phytoplankton community diversity.
Nutrient co-limitation at the boundary of an oceanic gyre
Researchers closely examined the transport of water, substrates and nutrients through the microscopically small hyphae of fungi. They grew the fungi on a culture medium of water, glucose and nitrogen-containing nutrients. The fungal hyphae had to pass through a dry, nutrient-free zone in order to grow through into a new area containing the culture medium. The inhospitable transition zone contained spores of the common soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis. Spores are inactive stages of Bacillus that form when there is insufficient water, food and nutrients available for bacterial growth. The bacteria go into a kind of dormant stage, from which they only awake once the environmental conditions are more favourable for living again. As the fungal hyphae grew through the dry zone, the bacterial spores germinated and they noticed clear microbial activity.
The researchers then ‘labelled’ the water, glucose and nitrogen-containing nutrients in the culture medium in advance with stable isotopes. If these substances were transferred from the fungus to the bacteria, they could be detected using the isotopic marker.
They found stable isotopes of the labelled water, glucose and nitrogen-containing nutrients in the cell mass of the bacteria — which could only have come from the fungi.
Fungi awake bacteria from their slumber
There’s no such thing as ideal. Or is there?
While calculating the ratios of soil elements I made an interesting observation about carbon. Both plant and soil.
We know from previous studies that about 8% soil organic carbon (SOC) is optimum for yield. It turns out that’s about the same amount of carbon in most plants. Coincidence? I think not.
Optimum soil carbon for yield likely correlates with actual plant carbon.
If I take that and assume an 8% SOC 10cm topsoil and a linear decline over 60cm depth, I get 15.75% Total SOC. You see these levels in some forests and Terra Preta.
I wonder what percentage of fungi and bacteria is carbon?… Just checked… and it turns out fungi are about 8%!
Spirulina, a cyanobacteria? 3.12%. If you divide 8% by 3.12% you get a Fungal to Bacteria ratio of 2.56:1.
Meaning you’d need 2.56 fungi to 1 bacteria to get the equivalent of 8% carbon.
What did David Johnson say was ideal Fungi:Bacteria ratio? Well, will you look at that, 2.56 is pretty darn close to the productivity maxima.
So, depending on what you are growing, it could well dictate the ideal soil organic carbon and the bacteria:fungi ratio.
FWIW, if you’re growing a human, then we’re 18.5% carbon… and a vegetarian would need to consume something like 2.3x the amount of food as a carnivore. This is below the bifurcation growth rate of chaos theory at 3.0.