By Dr.Anand Titus and Geeta N. Pereira
To date we have written a dozen or more articles on the pro active role of microorganisms in shaping the destiny of the Coffee Mountain. However, off late we have received hundreds of e. mail requests from all over the globe, asking us to elaborate on the type of microorganisms carrying out these functions. Armed With a back ground of Microbiology and Horticulture, we have made an honest attempt to simplify the role of BACTERIA in coffee plantation ecology.
All living organisms are classified as either PROKARYOTIC (PRIMITIVE) or EUKARYOTIC (Higher forms of life) based on their cellular structure. Bacteria and blue green algae are grouped under prokaryotes and all other organisms are eukaryotes. Bacteria are unicellular microscopic or single celled organisms widely distributed in nature. The greatest benefit in studying bacteria is that it throws light on the evolution of simple cellular systems and the higher forms of life.
Microorganisms are categorized into six distinct groups.
The primary purpose of writing this article is to help coffee farmers worldwide in understanding the basic premise on which BACTERIA operate and the ways and means of carefully exploiting their potential to maintain a perfect ecological balance within the coffee farm.
The coffee habitat provides a fertile ground generating a host of both macro and micro organisms. The bacteria are the most dominant group of microorganisms in coffee soils. The microscopic analysis of coffee soils shows that there is plenty of room at the bottom for the proliferation of different types of microorganisms because of the rich humus and organic matter content.
Among the different groups, bacteria are capable of harvesting atmospheric nitrogen, solubilisation of rock phosphate and in the transformations of various substrates resulting in periodic supply of available nutrients for plant growth and development. However, coffee farmers need to understand that the types of bacteria and their numbers are governed by the soil type and cultivation practices like addition of chemical manures, pesticides, poisons, type of tillage etc. In turn the activity of bacteria is influenced by the availability of nutrients, both in organic and inorganic forms.
Their numbers are very high in coffee soils with large number of trees compared to open meadows. This is due to the shading nature as well as greater root density and the abundant availability of soil organic matter. Due to the high organic matter content of coffee soils, bacteria decompose the organic matter and in the process acquire energy.