Impact of commonly used agrochemicals on bacterial diversity in cultivated soils
Indian Journal of Microbiology
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Water Research Institute, CSIR-WRI, P. O. Box M 32, Accra, Ghana
The effects of three selected agrochemicals on bacterial diversity in cultivated soil have been studied. The selected agrochemicals are Cerox (an insecticide), Ceresate and Paraquat (both herbicides). The effect on bacterial population was studied by looking at the total heterotrophic bacteria presence and the effect of the agrochemicals on some selected soil microbes. The soil type used was loamy with pH of 6.0-7.0. The soil was placed in opaque pots and bambara bean (Vigna subterranean) seeds cultivated in them. The agrochemicals were applied two weeks after germination of seeds at concentrations based on manufacturer's recommendation. Plant growth was assessed by weekly measurement of plant height, foliage appearance and number of nodules formed after one month. The results indicated that the diversity index (Di) among the bacteria populations in untreated soil and that of Cerox-treated soils were high with mean diversity index above 0.95. Mean Di for Ceresate-treated soil was 0.88, and that for Paraquattreated soil was 0.85 indicating low bacterial populations in these treatment-type soils. The study also showed that application of the agrochemicals caused reduction in the number of total heterotrophic bacteria population sizes in the soil. Ceresate caused 82.50% reduction in bacteria number from a mean of 40 × 105 cfu g-1 of soil sample to 70 × 104 cfu g-1. Paraquat-treated soil showed 92.86% reduction, from a mean of 56 × 105 cfu g-1 to 40 × 104 cfu g-1. Application of Cerox to the soil did not have any remarkable reduction in bacterial population number. Total viable cell count studies using Congo red yeast-extract mannitol agar indicated reduction in the number of Rhizobium spp. after application of the agrochemicals. Mean number of Rhizobium population numbers per gram of soil was 180 × 104 for the untreated soil. Cerox-treated soil recorded mean number of 138 × 104 rhizobial cfu g-1 of soil, a 23.33% reduction. Ceresate- and Paraquat-treated soils recorded 20 × 104 and 12 × 104 cfu g-1 of soil, respectively, representing 88.89% and 93.33% reduction in Rhizobium population numbers. Correspondingly, the mean number of nodules per plant was 44 for the growth in untreated soil, 30 for the plant in the Cerox-treated soil, 8 for the plant in Paraquat-treated soil and 3 for the plant in Ceresate-treated soil. The study has confirmed detrimental effect of insecticide on bacterial populations in the soil. Total heterotrophic counts, rhizobial counts as well as the number of nodules of all samples taken from the chemically treated soils were all low as compared to values obtained for the untreated soil. However, the effect of the insecticide was minimal in all cases as compared to the effects of the herbicides on the soil fauna. Indiscriminate use of agrochemicals on farms can therefore affect soil flora and subsequently food production. © Association of Microbiologists of India 2009.
Bacteria (microorganisms); Bambara; Rhizobium; Vigna subterranea