Lena Faller

Lena Faller MSc

PhD Candidate
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Visiting Address

Droevendaalsesteeg 10
6708 PB Wageningen

+31 (0) 317 47 34 00

The Netherlands



I want to help make agriculture more circular and sustainable by combining nutrient mobilizing microbes and recycled phosphorus compounds.


I am a PhD candidate working on the project "REPHORM: REcycled PHOsphorus Resolved by Microbes" with the aim to decipher the ecological role of the soil microbiome steered by recycled phosphorus compounds in stimulating plant growth. I am based at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) in association with Utrecht University (UU). My promotor is Prof. Dr. Ir. Eiko Kuramae (NIOO-KNAW, Utrecht University) and co-promotor is Prof. dr. George Kowalchuk (Utrecht University).

Research groups

Projects & collaborations


  • REPHORM - REcycled PHOsphorus Resolved by Microbes

    Project 2022–Present
    Sufficient Phosphorus (P) and Iron (Fe) supply is essential for crop production. Most of the P and Fe in soil is not readily available for the plant, making agriculture depending on inorganic fertilizers mainly derived from depletable resources. An alternative to this unsustainable practice is to use recycled compounds recovered during wastewater treatment. This project focuses on the use of the two recycled compounds struvite (MgNH4PO4·6H2O) and vivianite (Fe3(PO4)2·8H2O) which are both insoluble and hard to synchronize with the nutrient needs during early plant development. To increase efficient nutrient release of these recycled sources, we propose the use of microbes that can solubilize P and release siderophore, both recognized traits of plant growth promoting microbes. Several plant growth-promoting microbes have been isolated, but their transfer to agriculture, so far, resulted in an inconsistent success, due to competition or resistance of the resident soil microbiome to inoculants. This project will circumvent this challenge by steering the local microbiome with the addition of recycled nutrients and will further optimize the microbiome by microbial community breeding. Overall, this project will focus on identifying microbial community members with struvite and vivianite solubilizing function, optimizing these communities, determining the role of these communities on increasing the nutrient release as well as monitoring the recruitment of these beneficial microbes in the rhizosphere and the effect on plant growth.