Life Underground: Earth’s Hidden Biomass

Photo by  Rina S
Photo by Rina S

When we think about lush forests like the Amazon or the teeming underwater life of coral reefs, it can be hard to believe that so much of the earth’s biomass – around one quarter to one third – exists underground in the dirt.

And yet, that’s exactly where it is!

For plants alone, the data is staggering:

And for microbes in the dirt and soil? The Earth’s deep biosphere houses about 70% of all the planet’s bacteria and single-cell archaea, according to LiveScience.

  • Archaea are a type of single-cell microorganisms

But just because these plant roots and tiny critters are out of sight, doesn’t mean they should be out of mind. Understanding the hidden underground biomass is critical for understanding carbon sequestration and soil nutrient availability.

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