The missing soil microbe library and some alternatives

The original soil microbe library unfortunately had a habit of being more offline than online. Now it seems to have been closed altogether.

However, there are good instagram resources, for example, from RootShoot Soils and a new soilmicrobelibrary.

Trying to find examples of what I am looking at, I came across the following resources. What do you find helpful in your explorations?
Please add to the comments below.

Comprehensive resources covering several groups of soil organisms

The European Union has published several soil atlases for Europe, Latin America & the Carribean, the Northern Polar regions, Africa, and most recently, the Globe.

Fantastic resources!

They are complemented by a soil database at the European Soil Portal.

There will be objects under the scope that are intriguing, but not covered in the soil food web course. Some forum discussions will be helpful, and also this resource to correlate “unidentified objects”. Like this one, for example:

What do you think this is? Answer at the bottom of this page.

James Weiss is a fantastic story teller sharing super quality images, videos and great balance of science, philosphy, love and marvelling.

A developing library of life, with pretty cool pictures but still evolving (and as yet not very useful) cataloguing – but one to keep an eye one. A random image search resolved one of my parked “what might this be” queries.


Bernard Jenni shares some very helpful videos that help differentiate Spirilla from Spirochetes.


Here an organised collection of protozoa images.
Interestingly, some things that were supposedly “just” marine species of zooplankton have been shared in images from soil assessments.
So, the marine species are definately worth being aware of, too.

Beautiful images and excellent cataloguing of all things amoeboid

More georgeous amoeba, or is it new art work, with scientific names?
How did we end up with this mad division between art and science??


Pictures from different functional groups of soil nematodes help with ID

A nematode database, very comprehensive, some pdf lectures if you dig deep enough. Best for a long winter’s day or much rain.
It includes a page on the different feeding habits of the different families.

A key to nematodes in soil – super interesting, but keep focus on functions to keep yourself from getting side-tracked!
Another key to nematodes – these are found in water, but some useful references still.

And a gallery of nematodes from Wageningen University, using the handy cross-reference for feeding habits of different species in the above database.

An introduction to nematodes in vegetable cropping

It’s a book (more relevant ones over here), but well worth looking up – with great drawings: Nematodes as biological control agents by D.S. Grewal, R.U. Ehlers & D.I. Shapiro-Ilan (2008)


Knowing the genus and if possible, species can tell us something about their natural habitats, and in turn, the direction the soil food web is shifting in, or alert us to potential pathogens.

This guide helps with looking at the macroscopic characteristics of fungi, to help with genus identification (best used in combination with a key, as discussed here).

This visual page helps describe and locate what different fungal keys are describing.

Here we have good fungi ID information, photos, including very helpful microscopic spore images.

As this is a very comprehensive topic, please head over here for more.


Here is a key to help identifying some jointed-legged soil critters.

Magical high-quality videos of the microscopic world

Journey to the Microcosmos offers an excellent way to stop and marvel, relax, and make ourselves familiar with the microbes we may or may not encounter one day under the microscope. In high definition, super focussed, and well-told stories. Be warned – it may be addictive. Real-world magic.

OK, there is a lot of pond life. But since soil microorganisms live on a film of water, there are many familiar critters, beautifully introduced and showcased.

Feel wound up? Going for a walk and then settling to some microbial cinema definately shifts perspective!

Other life

Pollen often present with such artistry and ofen mathmatical beauty!
Here a link to frequent shapes to narrow down when you are not sure what you are seeing.

Diatoms are microalgae, responsible for much of the oxygen we breathe. We come across them in soil sometimes. Journey to the Microcosmos shares some marvellous footage and facts. Including why diatoms get smaller over time, and what nature does about that. And biology discussion helps us understand a bit more about their reproduction, and their resting and survival stages as auxospores.

Rotifers are such fun, the ‘hoovers of the soil’ create visible currents to feed themselves. If you want to get down a labyrinth of rotifer resources, try here, but it’s not necessary for our purpose. But helpful to remember that rotifers need to life in a fair film of water – so will indicate moist soil conditions if found there. They can be indicative of anaerobic conditions.

Myxomycetes (slime moulds) don’t seem to like to fit into neat boxes. And why should they! They are not fungi, but have been added to the protists. This is a superb collection gathered by Janna Oppel and photographed by Bernard Jenni.

Insect lavae can be narrowed down by this helpful key from the University of Kentucky.

Larger soil life, visible to the naked eye, is over here.

And, what do you think the picture shows?

The filament is a feather. A Jay feather perhaps?!

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