Soil microbes are tightly bound to and often covered in soil making them very hard to evaluate by microscopy. The special magic of microBIOMETER® is the extraction powder and whisking process that separates most of the microbes from the soil. And during the 20 minute settling time allows the soil particles to precipitate leaving the extraction fluid >95% microbial.
This allows microBIOMETER® to examine 100 – 1000 times more microbes than any other method. When you apply extraction fluid to the membrane in the test card the colored microbes are captured on the surface of the membrane. A cell phone picture of the card is analyzed by the app and the intensity of the color of the microbes indicates their quantity – this is the basis for all laboratory colorimetric tests. We discovered that the fungi in soils are a slightly different color than bacteria, and so the app is able to distinguish between bacteria and fungi.
Click here to see a full video tutorial of microBIOMETER® soil testing.
The graph pictured here from the USDA website depicts the ratio of fungi to bacteria as a characteristic of the type of system it is in. An excerpt from the article:
“Grasslands and agricultural soils usually have bacterial-dominated food webs – that is, most biomass is in the form of bacteria. Highly productive agricultural soils tend to have ratios of fungal to bacterial biomass near 1:1 or somewhat less. Forests tend to have fungal-dominated food webs. The ratio of fungal to bacterial biomass may be 5:1 to 10:1 in a deciduous forest and 100:1 to 1000:1 in a coniferous forest.”
If you are measuring soil attached to the roots colonized by mycorrhizal fungi, your ratios should be much higher than is shown for agricultural soil. Also the saprophytic fungi population increases when there is a lot of litter for digestion, so you would expect to see different ratios at different times of the year and under different conditions.
The graph pictured below based on USDA website information shows the expected fungal to bacterial ratio for various plants.