Withdrawn Australian Society for Microbiology Annual Scientific Meeting 2013

Impact of Oil Palm Plantation in Tropical Peat Swamp Soil on Soil Microbiology Activity (#297)

Yuana Nurulita 1 2 , Eric Adetutu 1 , Krishna Kadali 1 , Delita Zul 3 , Andrew S. Ball 1
  1. RMIT University, Mill Park, Vic, Australia
  2. Chemistry, University of Riau, Pekanbaru, Riau, Indonesia
  3. Biology , University of Riau, Pekanbaru, Riau, Indonesia

The introduction of oil palm plantations in South East Asia has resulted in significant deforestation.  For example, in 2011, Indonesia had 8.7 Mha devoted to oil palm plantation, giving rise to 22.9 MT of palm oil. The environmental impact of this production is significant, yet not widely studied. The aim was to investigate the effect of oil palm plantation in tropical peat swamps on soil microbial activity. Peat swamp soil samples were collected from an oil palm plantation (OPP) and from an oil palm plantation following burning (OPPB), a traditional land management practice in the area. Samples were also taken from undisturbed soils from the Peat Swamp Primary Forest (PF).  Assessment of the physico-chemical properties confirmed a loss in the water content and water holding capacity of OPP1 and OPP2 , although organic matter (85-94% w/w) and  pH (4.1 - 4.7) of the topogenous peat soil were not significantly different between samples. Assessment of the total viable microbial biomass of the soils using nutrient agar (NA) and potato dextrose agar (PDA) confirmed that PF soils had a larger biomass (3.5 x104 cfu/g for NA and 1.4 x104 cfu/g for PDA compared with 7.4 x 103 cfu/g for NA and 2.6 103 cfu/g for PDA of oil palm plantation soils). Assessment of the soil microbial community through the use of BIOLOG ECOPLATES suggested that the OPP soil was functionally different from the PF and burned OPP soil (OPPB). Enzyme analysis of soil extracts based on the use of para-nitrophenol substrates showed the presence of key nutrient cycling enzymes in all soils (e.g. β-glucosidase, cellobiohydrolase, acid phosphatases) although values varied among samples. Further molecular microbial analyses are underway to further assess the impact of oil palm plantations and associated burning on the activity and diversity of the peat soil microbial community.