It has been a while since I wrote here. Global pandemic, lockdown and all. You can read my thoughts during working at home and home-schooling kids here in the Nessling foundation blog.
A lot has happened since March. I set-up the main mesocosm experiment in the containers using sterile soil as background and 4 donor soils with varying levels (soil 3 having 10x more fungi than soil 4) and traits of fungi. During summer season, I grew potatoes in the containers under drought or well-watered and either sprayed insecticides (conventional management) or not. The potatoes turned out fine, and it seems the soil inocula affects both the number, biomass and taste of the potatoes. Drought affected the soil structure and (substrate induced) respiration more… Now a cover crop mixture is sown and I am busy analyzing samples and results. Which look already very interesting so stay tuned! Next, and the main phase, will start in April when some cool stable-isotope labeling will happen. Our technical department is already building chambers for in situ labeling… so also more on that later!
During the summer I have not been working alone but have been supervising 4 students working with me!
- Sally wrote her thesis on the effects of drought on plant-soil-feedbacks and focused especially on AMF and plant pathogens.
- Leon investigated fungal traits using culture based methods from the soils used as inocula in the main experiment
- Mengyu extracted collembolan from the soils and tested their feeding preferences and their effects on soil aggregation through grazing on fungal hyphae (using the fungi tested for traits) again using the same soils
- Kees is still busy with his experiment on the effects of cover crops on above-and belowground pest suppression.
I must thank all the students for their work during these difficult times and wish them all the best!
Hoping to find time soon to update on the results and experiments,