Soil Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning
Soil organisms represent the unseen majority of life on Earth and are essential for the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems as they catalyze unique and indispensable transformations in the biogeochemical cycles of the biosphere. The significance of soil biodiversity for the functioning of agricultural and natural ecosystems is still poorly understood and soil microbial communities can be considered as a black box. Unraveling what soil microbes are doing in this black box has been identified as one of the major research areas in science, comparable to the search for life on Mars. We investigate the significance of soil biodiversity for the functioning of agricultural and natural ecosystems. Specific attention is given to arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, soil microbes which form symbiotic associations with the majority of land plants and which can have a big impact on plant growth and ecosystem functioning.
We perform greenhouse and field experiments to investigate how soil organisms influence plants and ecosystem above ground. In addition to that we develop ecological farming systems with the aim to improve plant productivity and ecosystem sustainability.
- Soil Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning
- Mycorrhizal Ecology and Plant-Microbe Interactions
- Ecological Farming: development of sustainable farming systems
- Soil biodiversity and functioning of agricultural ecosystems: developing science for evidence based policy
- Microbial Control on Nutrient Cycling and Ecosystem Functioning
- Antagonism in the Mycorrhizal Symbiosis – in search for mechanisms
- Banking Rhizosphere Micro-Organisms: European – Russian Initiative to set up a network of rhizosphere microbiological resource centers
- Optimising subsidiary crop applications in rotations
- Ecological Farming
Head of the group: Prof. Dr. Marcel van der Heijden