It is important to know the contributions of bacteria and fungi to decomposition in connection with both the structure of the food web and the functioning of the ecosystem. However, the extent of the competition between these groups of organisms is largely unknown. The bacterial influence on fungal growth in a soil system was studied by applying three different bacterial inhibitors - bronopol, tylosin and oxytetracycline - in a series of increasing concentrations, and comparing the resulting bacterial and fungal growth rates measured using leucine and acetate-in-ergosterol incorporation, respectively. Direct measurements of growth showed that fungi increased after adding inhibitors; the level of increase in fungal growth corresponded to that of the decrease in bacterial growth, irrespective of the bacterial inhibitor used. Similar antagonistic effects of the bacteria on fungal growth were also found after adding the bacterial inhibitors together with additional substrate (alfalfa or straw plant material). The resulting responses in bacterial and fungal growth indirectly indicated that the negative interaction between fungi and bacteria was mostly attributable to exploitation competition. The results of this study also emphasize the increased sensitivity of using growth-related, instead of biomass-based, measurements when studying bacterial and fungal interactions in soil.
Interaction between fungi and bacteria in soil
Effect of environmental factors on fungal and bacterial growth in soil