Wet soil comprises of which bacteria that releases the wonderful smell of the soil?

Asked by PP Methuku | 4th Jun, 2012, 12:53: PM

Expert Answer:

It is caused by the bacteria Actinomycetes, a type of filamentous bacteria, which grow in soil when conditions are damp and warm. This bacteria is extremely common and can be found in areas all over the world. When the soil dries out, the bacteria produces spores in the soil. The wetness and force of rainfall kick these tiny spores up into the air. The moist air easily carries the spores to us so we breathe them in. These spores have a distinctive, earthy smell we often associate with rainfall. Since the bacteria thrives in moist soil but releases the spores once the soil dries out, the smell is most acute after a rain that follows a dry spell.

(Another after-the-rain smell comes from volatile oils that plants and trees release. The oil then collects on surfaces such as rocks. The rain reacts with the oil on the rocks and carries it as a gas through the air. This scent is similar to the bacteria spores.

There are also all sorts of other scents after it rains. There is lots of aromatic material that the moisture and impact of rain can stir up, and the moist atmosphere following a downpour is particularly good at carrying these particles through the air.)

Answered by  | 5th Jun, 2012, 10:29: AM

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