Why do greenhouses smell?
A study of the smell of greenhouses at the University of New South Wales suggests it may be due to the presence of microorganisms, rather than the air.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, found the presence and function of some of the most common odour bacteria in greenhouses and found the bacteria were present in large numbers.
Dr John Collins, who led the study, said the findings suggested that there were different ways to treat the smells produced by different kinds of greenhouse.
“Some of the odours we find in greenhouse air are caused by the microbes that live there, but others are caused more by the atmosphere itself,” he said.
Dr Collins said there were a number of different ways of dealing with smells.
“If you treat them with a disinfectant or disinfectant solution, you’re going to get a lot of the microbes from the air, but if you treat it with a pure air source, then the microbes don’t get as much exposure,” he explained.
The researchers looked at bacteria in the air and found a range of species that could live in the environment, including several species of fungi.
Dr James Ransom, from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, said there had been much debate about how much environmental impact these odours had on marine life.
“It’s not just the animals, they’re also people,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“A lot of studies have been done on marine animals and some of them are showing that these things can affect them, but they’ve all been done in very confined environments.”
Dr Collins explained that the microbes are not necessarily harmful to humans.
“We don’t know what effect they might have on people, but it’s possible that some of these microbes can be harmful to people in the long run,” he added.
Dr Collins said the study had implications for the way we treat our environment.
He said the fact that so many microbes were found in the atmosphere was a surprise. “
Are we going to use it to get some of those beneficial microbes into the environment?”
He said the fact that so many microbes were found in the atmosphere was a surprise.
“That’s what was really surprising,” he noted.
“But we know the microbes exist in nature, we know they’re in the water, and they’re there in the soil, so we know what they’re doing.”