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Are Soil Microorganisms Important for Plant Health? *

Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety Adult supervision is required when using the oven. Use caution when handling and disposing of mold. Treat molds according to the same safety rules as outlined for bacteria in the Microorganisms Safety Guide.
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.


Soil may look like a bunch of dirt, but good quality soil is actually a complex mixture of dirt, nutrients, microorganisms, insects and worms. What type of benefit do these microorganisms offer a growing plant? You can test this by baking soil in the oven to sterilize and kill the microorganisms. Do plants grown in sterile soil do better than plants in unsterilized soil? What about adding worms to one plant, but not to the other. Will the plant with worms grow better? Some insects are bad for plants, and others are good for plants. Can you design an experiment to figure out which is which? What about mold and fungus? Try adding moldy bread to soil to see how this affects the growth and health of the plant. (VanCleave, 1993, 9-20; Vecchione, 2001, 168-169)

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Science Buddies Staff. "Are Soil Microorganisms Important for Plant Health?" Science Buddies. Science Buddies, 30 June 2014. Web. 26 Oct. 2014 <http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/PlantBio_p031.shtml>

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2014, June 30). Are Soil Microorganisms Important for Plant Health?. Retrieved October 26, 2014 from http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/PlantBio_p031.shtml

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Last edit date: 2014-06-30


  • VanCleave, J. 1993. Janice VanCleave's A+ Projects in Biology. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Vecchione, G. 2001. 100 Award-Winning Science Fair Projects. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing.

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I did this project I Did This Project! Please log in and let us know how things went.

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