Common Name: Compost Microorganisms
Scientific Name: Mostly (+80%) bacteria that may potentially include: Alcaligenes faecalis, Bacillus brevis, B. circulanscomplex, B. coagulans, B. licheniformis, B. megaterium, B. pumilus, B. sphaericus, B. stearothermophilus, B. subtilis, Clostridium thermocellum, Escherichia coli, Flavobacterium sp., Pseudomonas sp., Serratia sp., Thermus sp., etc. but also actinomycetes potentially including: Actinobifida chromogena, Microbispora bispora, Micropolyspora faeni, Nocardia sp., Pseudocardia thermophilia, Streptomyces rectus, S. thermofuscus, S. thermoviolaceus, S. thermovulgaris, S. violaceus-ruber, Thermoactinomyces sacchari, T. vulgaris, Thermomonospora curvata, T. viridis, etc., fungi potentially including: Aspergillus fumigatus, Humicola grisea, H. insolens, H. lanuginosa, Malbranchea pulchella, Myriococcum thermophilum, Paecilomyces variotti, Papulaspora thermophila, Scytalidium thermophilim, Sporotrichum thermophile, etc., many species of protozoa, and rotifers.
During the thermophilic phase (+40° C), thermophilic bacteria begin to dominate, and at the highest compost temperatures (+60° C), bacteria of the genus Thermus may constitute the entire population of living microorganisms in the sample.
Habitats: Potentially almost everywhere on earth where life exists, but specifically in piles of decomposing organic materials.
Care: Compost microorganisms require four things to work effectively: Carbon — for energy; the microbial oxidation of carbon produces the heat, if included at suggested levels. Nitrogen — to grow and reproduce more organisms to oxidize the carbon. Oxygen — for oxidizing the carbon, the decomposition process. Water — in the right amounts to maintain activity without causing anaerobic conditions. The most efficient composting occurs with a carbon:nitrogen mix of about 30 to 1.
Symbiosis: A diversity of microorganisms inhabit compost and may be present in the various stages of composting. Their relationships one to another range from predatory to mutualistic and everything in between. Compost microorganisms are a vital component of life on earth, transforming the waste products of many species into food for many others.
- Joseph Jenkins’ The Humanure Handbook
- Wikipedia article on Compost
- Cornell University article on Compost Microorganisms