2023-01-01 to 2025-12-31
Approx. 1,1 mil. EUR
Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Finland
Center of Biological Sciences – Department of Botany, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Brazil
Departments of ECODIV – UMR AMAP, National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE), Montpellier, France
Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
Local Unit Parma – University of Parma – Department of Chemistry Life Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, Italian National Interuniversity Consortium for Environmental Sciences (CINSA), Parma, Italy
Subcontractor: Laboratory for Biodiversity of Terrestrial Ecosystems – Institute for Multidisciplinary Research, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia
Department of Crop and Forest Sciences, University of Lleida, Lleida, Spain
The significance of soil microbial diversity has received little attention. The reason is that the molecular methods to identify soil microbes were new, awkward to use and expensive. However, molecular tools have evolved and are now affordable. Also, nowadays, bioinformatics software is much easier to use than ten years ago. The proposed project pioneers the use of molecular biology tools to protect and conserve the soil microbiome. The ecosystems studied in the project cover a climatic gradient from boreal to subtropical (Brazil).
The project provides stakeholders with an evaluation of the importance of the soil microbiome in a conservation ecology setting. This involves the evaluation mapping of rare and endangered species from soil DNA, the estimation of different other ecosystem services provided by the soil biome as carbon sequestration, protection against soil erosion and nutrient cycling. Furthermore, we will explore if the soil microbiome predicts the yields of commercially important fungi as well as the growth of trees.
We will use tools from molecular biology and biogeochemistry to analyse the soil microbial community and its function. Tools include tools to understand the phylogenetic diversity of the soil community and tools to measure functional genes. The phylogenetic and structural analyses are then used to determine the role of the soil microbiome in the provisioning of critical ecosystem services. These were soil carbon sequestration, conservation value, soil aggregate stability and yield of commercially valuable fungi. The project uses novel methods to measure the abundance of a broad array of functional genes; it tries to match long term field data with soil microbiome data to detect red-listed species from soil DNA. Also, the work on soil aggregate stability and the microbiome is genuinely innovative.
After the project, stakeholders in the case study regions will have information on the role of the soil microbiome for conservation. In addition, they will understand how different soil-based ecosystem services interact. As a result, they will be able to exploit tradeoffs and synergies between the ecosystem services. The project involves active engagement with local stakeholder groups and will actively disseminate its results via social media networks.