Profile – Actinobacteria


Actinobacteria is a phylum that plays an important role in maintaining the health of soil and because of this, they have become a key group to look out for in the agriculture and forestry sector. The primary role of Actinobacteria involves breaking down organic material, such as leaves, straw and woodchips, so key nutrients can be released back into the soil for use by plants and other microorganisms to support growth. Normally, this decomposing role is reserved for fungi in the soil, however the presence of Antinobacteria helps speed up the process. Without these decomposers at work, organic material accumulates on the surface while everything in living and growing in the soil below slowly starves.

Over the last few decades, Actinobacteria have also proved useful and made an impact within the area of medicine. Over a third of existing antibiotics were extracted from Actinobacteria, with more to be discovered. You don’t have to be in a lab to experience the health benefits of Actinobacteria. Gardening, or any soil-related activity, is thought to lift moods because of close contact with a special Actinobacteria, called Mycobacterium vaccae, which activates brain cells to produce serotonin.

Eager to meet the ever useful Actinobacteria? There is a neat way to tell if they are around you, just go outside after it’s rained and take a deep breathe. If you can smell something ‘earthy’, chances are you’re sniffing in nearby Actinobacteria spores that have been pushed up into the air by raindrops.

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Bacterial profiles: Proteobacteria | Actinobacteria | Acidobacteria | Tenericutes | Firmicutes