The Impact of the Bokashi Composting Method on Soil Fungal Community Structure and Function

First Author's Department

Biological Sciences

Second Author's Department

Biological Sciences

Third Author's Department

Biological Sciences

Fourth Author's Department

Biological Sciences

Fifth Author's Department

Biological Sciences



Document Type



Conversion from traditional farming practices to more sustainable, organic methods is becoming increasingly popular. While widely practiced, little research has been performed on how many of these methods influence overall plant health and their impact on soil microbial communities. In Costa Rica, for instance, many local farms utilize an organic farming technique known as the Bokashi method. This method is an anaerobic composting technique that utilizes the fermentation of organic matter and waste as a means of adding nutrients to soil to increase crop productivity. This is method is not only cost effective, but it is also not as work intensive as traditional composting techniques. However, while this method has great potential and is widely used, the impact that it has on soil microbial community structure and function is still a mystery. In this study, we analyzed whether Bokashi treatments have an impact on fungal community structure within several Costa Rican fields. We sampled soil from cilantro and/or cabbage farms representing a chronosequence of the Bokashi organic farming method, which ranged in age of implementation from 1 – 18 years. After sampling, we utilized next-generation Illumina sequencing to examine fungal taxonomic community structure. Overall, samples were found to contain a diverse array of fungi with dominance of phyla belonging to Ascomycota and to a lesser extent Basidiomycota. We found that the length of time a farm has been organically managed has a marginally significant effect on soil fungal community composition. However, sampling site and crop type had a more significant effect, which may show the importance of surrounding plant cover and dispersal limitation in determining community composition. While our findings suggest a small potential effect of organic farming on community composition, further analysis will be performed on how it influences the distribution of fungal functional groups.