Nematodes on Earth Estimates of Stars in Observable Universe - Seeker's Thoughts

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Nematodes on Earth Estimates of Stars in Observable Universe

The team of 50 researchers collected over 6,500 soil samples from all seven continents of the world and found that there are about 57 billion nematodes for every human on earth. 


Climate change is impacting biodiversity and the functioning of ecosystems around the world.

Earth scientists have created a global of nematodes, a type of microscopic worm that inhabits the top layer of soil from the frigid Arctic and the Arabian Desert to the Himalayas.


                              
                                           

The total biomass if these works, is actually three times greater than previously estimated and represents more than 80% of the total human biomass Earth.

What are soil organisms?
Soil organism, any organism inhabiting the soil during part or all of its life. Soil organisms, which range in size from microscopic cells that digest decaying organic material to small mammals that live primarily on other soil organisms, play an important role in maintaining fertility, structure, drainage, and aeration of the soil.

They also break down plant and animal tissues, releasing stored nutrients and converting them into forms usable by plants.

Pests organisms – Soil organisms that are pests of crops are nematodes, slugs and snails, symphylids beetle larvae, fly larvae, caterpillars, and root aphids. 

Some soil organisms cause rots, some release substances that inhibit plant growth, and other are hosts for organisms that cause animal diseases.


                                             


Since most of the function of soil organisms are beneficial, the earth with large numbers of organisms intends to be fertile; one square meter of rich soil can harbor as many as 1,000,000,000 organisms.

Why soil organisms are crucial?

Soil organisms are a crucial component of terrestrial biodiversity and aid human well-being by making contributions in areas such as food security, water purification, and carbon storage.
What are nematodes and what do they do?

Nematodes often referred to as roundworms and their size can vary from tine 0.2 millimeter to a few meters, nematodes are not closely related to true worms. 

They are multicellular insects with smooth, unsegmented bodies. They are multicellular insects with smooth, unsegmented bodies. 

The nematode species that feed on plants are so tiny that you need a microscope to see them. The adults often look long and slender, although some species appear pear-shaped.
These plants parasites are not the same roundworms as the filarial nematodes that infect the human body, spread diseases and wreak havoc on the immune system.

Some nematodes feed on the outer surfaces of the plant while others burrow into the tissue. Soil-dwelling nematodes are the most common culprits, but some species can damage plant roots, stems, foliage, and flowers.
                                       


No matter where they feed, these tiny worms can seriously damage to crops with their sharply pointed mouths by puncturing cell walls.

 The real damage occurs when a nematode injects saliva into a cell from its mouth and then sucks out the cell contents. 

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The plant responds to the parasitic worms with swelling, distorted growth, and dead areas. The nematode can also carry viruses and bacterial diseases inject them into plants.

The feeding wounds they make also provide an easy entrance point for bacteria and fungi.
Beneficial nematodes that enrich the soil may feed on the decaying material, insects, or other nematodes.

                                           
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What researchers found about nematodes?
According to the paper published in Nature adds are responsible for around 2.2% of the total carbon emission from soils.

These worms exhale carbon that is roughly equivalent to 15% of the carbon emissions from fossil fuel. This indicates that worms play a vital role in global soil carbon cycling.

Researchers say the resulting maps show that all the worms have a biomass of 0.3 gigatonnes. Almost 40% of these creatures exist in boreal forests and the tundra, 25% in temperate regions, and the rest in tropical and sub-tropical regions.

Nematodes inhabit the upper soil layer around the world and in an incredibly large number that is comparable in scale to the estimated number of stars in the observable universe.
                                       

The worm densities fluctuate in line with carrying concentrations of soil organic carbon (SOC) and other factors such as soil texture, pH levels, temperature, and rainfall.

Soil organic carbon (SOC) – is used as a nutrient by bacteria and fungi, on which the nematode feed. So, higher SOC helps increase the nematode populations by enhancing the number of bacteria and fungi.
                                       


How nematodes spread?

Whether they feed above or below ground, most nematodes spend at least part of their life cycle in the soil. While they can’t move very far under their own power, they can swim freely in water and they move more quickly in moist soil – they also spread by anything that can carry particles of infested soil, including tools, boots, animals and infected plants.

Is this the most ignored threat in the context of climate change?

 According to the global report by - The intergovernmental science-policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services, which is a part of United Nations – it says the threats to and trends in biodiversity that did not include a single mention of soil-dwelling organisms in the overview summary section, and only a few scattered mentions of these organisms in the main document.               


International effort to tackle climate change

In the context, if international efforts to tackle climate change such as the Paris agreement and considering the failure to achieve the 2020 biodiversity goals known as the Aichi Targets having one of the most dominant parts of terrestrial discourse will probably only contribute to the deterioration of soil biodiversity, with unforeseeable consequences for ecosystem sustainability.

This issue is even more crucial, considering that initiatives such as the push for global forest restoration might result in substantial changes to the nematode communities in the Northern Hemisphere.  
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