Frequently Asked Questions
Microbes – also known as microorganisms – are tiny entities that cannot be seen with the naked eyes. Microbes occur everywhere being on and within virtually everything. They are easily detected in soil, air and water as well as being particularly present on and within all living organisms including animals, plants and humans.
“The total weight of microbes on earth is more than the weight of all terrestrial organisms (including plants).”
“There are 10 times more the number of microbes cells on and in our body than our own human cells!”
Microbes influence all living things and contribute to all manner of chemical and physical processes. They are the major contributors in day to day life and they hold a vital position in the continual betterment of the environment along with raising health and well-being more frequently than having negative effects which unfortunately is more often what they are thought to do.
Every microbe is characterized by its genus, species and strain. For example Lactobacillus, Bacillus, Pseudomonas, Trichoderma, Gliocladium and Glomus are microbial genera.
In the Bacillus genus there are different species: Bacillus cereus, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, Bacillus thurigiensis…
One species is composed of numerous strains. For example Bacillus amyloliquefaciens has various strains IT45, DC-4, RC-2, GA1. Every strain has got its own ecotoxicological profile, properties and efficacy.
In the case of Fusarium oxysporum there are some strains which are pathogens of crops whereas some of them like Fusarium oxysporum strain FO47 has no harmful effects on plants and may be used as a biological agent.
“The genetic difference between a chimpanzee and a human is the same as the genetic difference between two microbial strains”
If we take the case of Bacillus amyloliquefaciens IT45, the beneficial properties of this microbe on crops and its inocuity are strain specific.
When you are dealing with microbial products, it is important to identify the full information: genus, species, strain to qualify the beneficial microbe.
The microbial manufacturer who has a registration for their product should indicate the strain for which they have demonstrated the quality, efficacy and inocuity!
The concentration of microorganisms is expressed in CFU/g (Colony Forming Unit). The CFU expresses the number of microbes that are viable and capable of multiplying to form colonies.
On the market we can find a lot of variability in the concentrations of microbial products.
A product with a bacteria (Genus, Species, Strain) at a concentration of 109 CFU/g will be 1000 times more concentrated than a product at a concentration of 106 CFU/g.
“If you buy a 106 CFU/g product 10 times less expensive than a 109 CFU/g product, your microbes will be a hundred times more expensive in the 106 CFU/g product than in the 109 CFU/g one.”
For manufactured microbial products, a concentration of 106 CFU/g should be considered to be very low as serious products should show a concentration of at least a billion CFU/g (109 CFU/g).
The concentration should also appear on the label information as well as the Genus, Species and Strain.
The correct positioning of a product is really important for the efficacy of the microbial product.
Environmental conditions (Temperature, humidity)?
How many applications?
All of those questions are very dependant on the type of microbes. Most of the time, microorganisms prefer humidity and non extreme temperature conditions. Some microbes can attach to the plant like Rhizobium sp. or Mycorrhizae. Others have a more limited lifecycle in soils and will compete quickly with indigenous microbes which will mean that renewal of applications is required.
The information on doses, shelf life, conditions of applications and use should feature on the label.
Microbial efficacy is a combination of several properties and modes of action: root growth stimulation, improvement of trace element availability such as iron and other cations, phosphorus solubilisation, sulphur oxidations, ability to occupy space and compete for food preventing the growth of pathogenic microbes…
It is not the prime goal to get the best microbe on one single property but the target is to isolate the strain of microbe which provides a good balance on various modes of action, long lasting viability and with efficacy in various functions.
“A good microbe is more like a decathlete than a single discipline athlete with a good balance of performance capabilities in several disciplines”.
The perfect microbe, which is good at everything, does not exist and may never be found. They are generally quite specific and what is important is their ability to be complementary.
“This microbe is able to breakdown organic matter!”
FALSE! Different types of microbes are necessary in the mineralisation of organic matter, some are able to transform cellulose, others sugars… From a general point of view fungi (actinomycetes) and then bacteria are involved in the process of breakdown of organic matter (there are 7, 000 to 30, 000 strains of different microbes in only 1 gram of soil.
The production process of an identified beneficial microbe, without contaminant, stable and homogeneous from one batch to the other is a big issue.
Multiple human skills and specific equipment are required to control the process of fermentation and then formulation.
Lallemand Plant Care researches, develops, manufactures and supplies high-value microorganisms and microbe derivatives for a number of diverse specialty end-uses.
Using sound science and empirical know-how, Lallemand selects the right strains for the right application to have the greatest impact for our partners and customers.