BIODIVERSITY STRATEGY ACTION PLAN – WEST BENGAL
The relative abundance of soil microflora primarilydepends on the moisture, pH and organic matter contentof soil. In general, the soils of Nadia, which represent thenew alluvial zone, rear maximum bacterial andactinomycetal diversity owing to slightly alkaline reaction(pH 7.7) favourable for their development (
).On the other hand, saline soils representative of coastalzone support minimum diversity of those organisms dueto high osmotic potential and some adverse ionic effects.Lateritic soil, representative of red lateritic zone,however, is enriched with fungal diversity (Mukherjee etal., 1999). In acid soils of northern districts of WestBengal actinomycetal diversity is relatively less owing tounfavourable pH condition. Although rhizobial diversityunder acid soil is high but their symbiotic effectiveness islow (
) and hence pulse cultivation in acid soilis restricted to some extent. Reports (De, 1954) suggestthat
is not universally present in the acidsoil; pH may be the limiting factor for their sustenance inthis soil.
have, however, been observed insome acid soils. Information indicates that more than50% of rice soil of West Bengal, in spite of havingfavourable pH, does not harbour
. Even inthose soils where
is present, the number isgenerally small (Bhattacharya, 1958) as also their species richness (
), the population of
being the single dominant species.
which is later renamed as A.
is veryscarce. In rice ecosystem photosynthetic heterocystsbearing cyanobacterial appearance is a uniquephenomena. Reports (Saha, 1979) suggest that themajority of the cyanobacterial abundance in alluvial soilof West Bengal is restricted to the family
being byfar the most frequently observed genera. The other dominant genera are
found in some alluvial soils (
).Under acid soils,
may be foundbecause they are seen to have tolerance to a wider range of pH (5.0 to 10.5) and to be ubiquitous in allregions in varying proportions. Plant parasitic nematodesinfestation is gaining importance under rice basedcropping system. Nematode diversity increases if nematode susceptible crops are included in croppingsystem (Mukherjee and Khan, 2000) (
).The component of biodiversity of soils whether beingbeneficial or harmful, undergoes a quick shift uponperturbations or anthropogenic activities likemanagement practices including intensive land clearing,tillage, puddling, monoculture, use of fertilisers,pesticides, sewage-sludge and inoculation of exotichighly competitive organisms etc. Hassink et al (1991)showed the rhizospheric community was affected mostby management practices. Alternative managementpractices such as minimum tillage or no tillage, croprotation, organic matter application, integrated nutrient –pest management, mulching, agro-forestry systemimproved and preserved soil biodiversity when comparedwith the previous detrimental practices.West Bengal has a vast area of land where rice-ricesystem is followed. Excessive ploughing and ladderingduring puddling destroy structural stability leading tocompaction and hardpan formation under such system.Diffusion of air to such soil is restricted. A distinctmicrobial shift is obvious. Aerobic flora and faunadisappear while facultative and obligate anaerobesproliferate. Fungal flora falls dramatically whereasmicroaerophilic
population predominatesand strict aerobes like
mostly disappear.Photosynthetic blue-green algae with lot of diversityappear profusely in such puddled rice soil (
).In red-lateritic, coastal saline and acidic alluvial zones of West Bengal monocropping is usually practiced. Under such system the total carbohydrate fraction of soilorganic carbon (SOC) is exhausted compared to that of native (barren) soil resulting in reduction of macroaggregates, the habitat of microbial population.Thus soil structure is modified or in extreme casesdestroyed. This habitat destruction under monocroppingleads to poor microbial diversity. Continuousmonocropping encourages less variability among themicrobes around the rhizosphere due to less variation inrhizodeposition. On the other hand, monocrop helps tobuild up root associated pathogenic organisms. Whereas,crop rotation with suitable crops increases soil organicmatter, balances uptake of nutrients, diversifiesrhizodepositions and breaks the root associatedpathogenic incidence. Although a balanced fertilisation at field dose is notharmful to soil organisms, but nature of fertiliser used