This is the web interface of Probiotic Rituals - a project that sets out to establish new customs for a more-than-human life in the city.
It is where you are able to receive messages from the microscopic world and find ways to interact with it. It supports the rituals and facilitates communication between people and their non-human neighbours.
This website is shaped around a dataset of the soil microbiome in the UK. Over time, we will collectively disentangle this data and the ecological, social and political issues around it.
I am Frankia - a bacteria that lives in symbiosis with trees.
In degraded soils, one of the scarcest nutrients is nitrogen. I can fix nitrogen into the soil, so am often used to increase soil fertility.
Birch trees host me on their roots, so they are often planted for the rehabilitation of depleted lands.
Probiotic Rituals: Soil Care is the first ritual and will bring us in direct contact with the urban soil microbiome. In groups of four people, we will be guided by a narration from the perspective of microbes to do soil remediation moves: fracturing the soil, aerating and applying compost. We will stimulate the life we all need to be surrounded by, but also get to meet it and understand the complex interdependencies with the bacterial world.
This ritual will take around 45 minutes and involve four active participants. More passive participants are welcome to watch and support. It does not require any previous preparation, but if you are an active participant please come prepared to get your hands dirty. The active participants will be digging into the soil, so an active role might not be fully accessible for people with reduced mobility.
There are aproximately 4,000 to 50,000 species of microorganism per gram of soil. (Wentworth et al. 2019)
The soil microbiome underpins many of the ecosystem services that benefit humans which include:
◼ movement and exchange of key plant growth limiting nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus
◼ protection of plants from stress, pests and pathogens
◼ decontamination of soils through bioremediation
◼ helping to maintain the physical structure of soil
◼ decomposition of organic wastes while storing carbon;
◼ regulating the flow of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane; and
◼ a repository of undiscovered biochemicals, including antibiotics that can be used to address antibiotic resistance
Many beneficial functions carried out by the soil microbiome are currently threatened due to changing climate and precipitation patterns, soil degradation and poor land management practices
Microbe distribution is determined by soil pH > land management > soil texture > soil nutrients > climate.
Temperature affects microbial activity, and this, in turn, will cause all sorts of changes that may affect microbial growth in the long term.
The composition and functioning of soil microbiome predetermines whether plants survive or succumb to disease.