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Chapter 48 : Surface Soil Microbial Sampling Methods
This chapter provides a first step into the analysis of the complex world of surface soil and a selection of conceptual approaches and resources for sampling surface soils so that the components of interest can be properly acquired and handled for subsequent microbial ecological studies. The focus on surface soils is one that distinguishes the chapter from others dealing with subsurface or aquifer sampling. The chapter also focuses on approaches that enable the scientist to acquire surface soil materials that are of appropriate quality and quantity for subsequent studies and provides information and resources for ensuring that soils are appropriately transported, stored, and distributed prior to use in experiments. The methods and approaches discussed are general ones that are provided to enable scientists to address their questions. The intact systems are generally more difficult to implement and maintain than those soil microbiological studies for which no such maintenance is required. Even in cases where the rhizosphere relationship is maintained, sampling from such chambers is problematic due to the immediate disturbance and destruction of the rhizosphere zone that takes place upon sample removal. Air drying is preferably done under a stream of sterile air flow to decrease the likelihood of introduction of laboratory microbial strains or other airborne propagules into the soil samples. The purpose of sieving is both to remove rocks and larger plant debris and invertebrates and to make the soils easier to distribute to experimental chambers.