Other Soil Microbes

Other microbes, apart from bacteria and fungi, also live in soil. These are actinomycetes, yeasts, viruses and algae. Not all of these other microbes are decomposer organisms.

Actinomycetes are bacteria-like microbes, joined end to end in a filamentous strand to form a branched, fungus-like network. They seem to be half-way between a bacterium and a fungus. They are good decomposers and can break down particularly resistant forms of organic matter such as cellulose and chitin.

Soil yeasts are unicellular fungi. They are decomposers.

Soil viruses prey on soil bacteria but not a lot is known about these micro-organisms.

Soil algae are also included in the microbes but these are different as they photosynthesise like green plants do.

Quirky bit: Oddly enough, soil actinomycetes are a good source of antibiotics. The soil actinomycete, Streptomyces, has produced many of our antibiotics and drugs e.g. streptomycin. The antiparasitic drug, avermectin, was first discovered in an actinomycete living in soil on a golf course in Japan! It is used to protect domestic animals, pets and humans from both internal and external parasites such as roundworms, ticks and lice. In humans, it kills parasitic nematode worms which cause River Blindness in Africa and South America.