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Factors That Affect the Rate of Decomposition


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Factors the affect the rate of decomposition

pH of soil
The pH of the soil can affect the rate of decomposition as it directly affects the type and activity of the bacteria, fungi and other micro-organisms decomposing material. A highly acidic soil (0-7 pH) or highly alkaline soils (7-14 pH), it is not a ideal environment for the micro-organisms to grow in. It also affects the food the soil biota feeds on, as extreme pH can determine the availability of essential plan nutrients.

Temperature of soil
In general, reaction rates increase when a temperature is hotter. This is also applicable to the rate of decomposition. The explanation for this relates to enzymes; the microbes, fungi and bacteria which are often the decomposers contain many enzymes which help to effectively break down a living being rolling body. If there is a higher temperature, in the instance, in the soil, then the enzymes will make more successful collisions than they would at a lower temperature.This in turn causes them to decompose an object faster.

However if a temperature is too high it will cause the enzymes to denature. Meaning the substrate will permanently change the shape and will not fit into the active site. Using the lock and key model we can see how denatured substances can cause less successful collision and a slower rate of decomposition.

Moisture of Soil
Decomposition is a process which needs oxygen - many micro-organisms are suppressed and cannot effectively decompose material without oxygen. This is why the moisture of the soil is so important - a heavily moist soil type will have insufficient aeration - there would be no space for the air particles among the water and soil mix. However, if the situation is reversed and you have a dry soil, you are bound to receive higher rates of decomposition.

Oxygen Level
This is strongly linked to the moisture of the soil - as noted, few decomposing micro-organism can perform well under anaerobic - like solutions. A lack of oxygen will also limit the species of microbes which can grow. This means the microbes will grow more slowly without oxygen as less ATP is produced per glucose molecule during anaerobic respiration. Another factor which results as a by-product of anaerobic respiration - is the acids created which limits yet again the growth of microbes.

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