Encyclopedia of Geobiology

2011 Edition
| Editors: Joachim Reitner, Volker Thiel


  • Erika Kothe
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9212-1_193




Soil: refers to the product of mineral weathering and secondary mineral formation, (microbial) mineralization, humus formation, and the resulting element mobilization/immobilization in the upper Earth crust in a pedogenetic process involving chemical, physical, and biological activities.


Soil is the basis of terrestrial life, particularly for agriculture, forestry, and generally land-use by man (Driessen et al., 2001). It is also the largest terrestrial ecosystem dominated by high numbers of microorganisms and soil-living animals as well as the root systems of plants. The biota within this ecosystem, not only interact but also actively shape their environment (Fiedler et al., 2002). This can be easily seen with root systems or earthworm/mole tunnels, but the metabolic activities of microorganisms by far exceed these visible alterations. Microbes are essential for the decomposition of plant litter followed by humification. The pedogenesis...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erika Kothe
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of MicrobiologyFriedrich Schiller University JenaJenaGermany