How Does OTC Impact the Soil Microbiome?

Daniel CooperAll In For Citrus Podcast, soil

Photo by Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash

Sarah Strauss, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) soil microbiologist, joined the June All In For Citrus podcast episode to discuss her research on the interaction of oxytetracycline (OTC) currently being injected into citrus trees and the soil microbiome. She noted that OTC does change the soil microbial community. The good news is that the changes appear to be beneficial to the tree.

According to Strauss, how products like OTC effect the soil microbial community is important. The plant microbiome, or all of the microbes that live in and around the tree, are key for overall soil and tree health. For example, there are microbes in the soil around the roots of trees that can help increase nutrient availability for a tree and increase the tolerance of the tree to different stresses. There are also potentially beneficial microbes that are in the bark of trees that can help with disease resistance and stress tolerance.

In both the rhizosphere and the bark, her research found that several specific bacterial groups were positively correlated with increases in fruit yield and weight. While correlation does not necessarily mean one thing caused another, it does indicate that OTC injections might result in increases in potentially beneficial bacteria in the bark and rhizosphere.

“What we think could be happening, and this is just a hypothesis, is that some of these harmful bacteria and the reduction of the HLB bacteria allows for more resources for other (positive) bacteria to grow in more abundance,” Strauss said.

Learn more about this research in the June All In For Citrus episode. The podcast is a partnership between AgNet Media and UF/IFAS.

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