Actinomycetes are organisms so, so small that you need a microscope to see them; unless they invade an area, in which case we would see that it looks similar to fungi.
But despite being tiny play an essential role in any field where there are plants. And the best part is that we don’t have to do almost anything to benefit from them.
What are actinomycetes?
Actinomycetes, also called actinobacteria, are microorganisms that are sometimes included in the kingdom of fungi (Fungi) and others in that of bacteria. Why? Because some species of actinomycetes are capable of producing filamentous bodies, which are like threads that cover an area. These are known as false hyphae, and they resemble those found in fungi.
So what are they? They are gram-positive bacteriathat is, they are bacteria that stain dark blue or violet when subjected to Gram’s stain.
Where are they found?
We could almost say that anywhere. At the bottom of lakes, on the banks of rivers, in the most superficial part of the soil but also in the deep ones, in fertilizers. They have a preference for alkaline soils, although they can also be found in acids. It is estimated that in a single gram of acidic soil, with a pH of 5, there are between 100.000 and 100 million actinomycetes, and that number can increase considerably in soils with a pH of 7 or higher.
They love soils rich in organic matteras it can be a meadow or a field, although they also coexist with our plants in the garden, especially if it is of little irrigation and no ammonia fertilizers are used to fertilize the plants. And it is that these types of fertilizers make the soil rich in nitric acid, which inhibits the growth of our protagonists.
What are the functions of actinomycetes in soil?
We want to differentiate the functions that they have in the soil from those that they have in other parts and even in other organisms, since there are certain species that cause serious diseases in animals, including humans, there are others that are used to produce antibiotics, and others that have agricultural interest. Therefore, and since this is a gardening blog, we want you to know what are the benefits that are obtained in a garden.
And it is that its main function is to break down organic matter. With this they make the nutrients accessible to the roots of the plants. Here it must be taken into account that the land in which plant beings grow, as well as the fertilizer that is applied to them, contains a series of nutrients. What happens is that these are not always assimilable for them.
For this reason, actinomycetes, together with other microorganisms, transform this organic matter until they have an ammonia form (NH4 +) as well as other simpler forms of nitrogen; that is, until they become assimilable by the roots.
Thus, their functions are:
- By breaking down organic matter, help plants to feed.
- They reduce the proliferation of microorganisms that could harm plants, since they generate antibiotic substances that control their population.
- They help to maintain the natural balance of the soil.
Can you buy products that contain actinomycetes?
Yes of course. As we have mentioned before, they live in environments where there is organic matter. This means that any organic compost (like horse manure you can buy here!) and culture substrates can harbor colonies of actinomycetes (click here to know which substrate to choose for your plant). Therefore, it is highly recommended to use this type of product when growing plants, as it is a way to have them with us.
So don’t hesitate to make your own homemade compost, for example, and in betting on the use of insecticides and natural fertilizers to take care of your plants. In this way, you will make them grow in a more natural way.
Have you heard of actinomycetes?