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IUSS Alert 143 (May 2017)

Preparation of the World Congress of Soil Science 2018
The last months have seen a lot of progress with the preparation of the scientific programme of the 21st World Congress of Soil Science 2018. The programme will be available in June 2017. The next steps towards the Congress taking place from 12 to 17 August 2018 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are the following:
- On-line registration and abstract submission open: June 2017
- Deadline for abstract submission: 30/11/2017
- Notification for abstract acceptance: 15/01/2018
- Deadline for early registration: 15/02/2018
- Deadline for regular registration: 12/05/2018
Please take note of these dates in order to submit your contribution and to register for the congress in time. We are looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the WCSS 2018.


The marvel of soil biodiversity
In this article, Leo M. Condron explains why the multitude of organisms actively making up the soil biomass are crucial to the survival and growth of all plants and animals. Most people are familiar with the concept of biodiversity. Its health and functional benefits are derived from the presence of many different plant and animal species in an environment. Biodiversity ‘hotspots’ support a vast variety of plant and animal species; an example being a tropical rainforest with up to 80,000 plant, 50,000 insect, 1,500 bird, and 2,000 mammal/amphibian species. However, the corresponding level of biodiversity present in the underlying soil environment is much greater than above-ground, with over 100,000 known species of bacteria and fungi, 25,000 species of nematodes, 40,000 species of mites, and 7,000 species of earthworms.
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Cattle-associated antibiotics disturb soil ecosystems
Manure from cattle administered antibiotics drastically changes the bacterial and fungal make-up of surrounding soil, leading to ecosystem dysfunction, according to a Virginia Tech research team. The team analysed soil samples from 11 dairy farms in the United States and found that the amount of antibiotic resistant genes was 200 times greater in soil near manure piles compared with soil that wasn’t. Furthermore, microbes with greater antibiotic resistance showed higher stress levels. Soil microbial communities are important for sustaining ecosystem services, such as climate regulation, soil fertility, and food production. Perturbations, such as antibiotic exposure, can have marked effects on soil microbes and these services.
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