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Nearly 1000 'citizen scientists' sent in their observations this year on Soil Animal Days 2019. And a surprisingly high number of people tried to do something in return for the vital services these soil creatures provide for us.
16/04/2021 Kay Moisan has won the 2020 Hugo de Vries Award, for her PhD thesis on odours released by soil fungi and their effects on plants.
Sorghum is the fifth most important cereal in the world. In sub-Saharan Africa, many farmers rely on this grain for food and feed. But Striga, a parasitic weed, can have a devastating impact on crop yield. With an 8-million-dollar grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, an international team will now explore the potential of soil microbes to offer crop protection. The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) is coordinating this 5-year project.
‘Relationships’ in the soil become stronger during the process of nature restoration. Although all major groups of soil life are already present in former agricultural soils, they are not really ‘connected’ at first. These connections need time to (literally) grow, and fungi are the star performers here. A European research team led by the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) has shown the complete network of soil life for the first time. This Wednesday, the results of the extensive study are published in Nature Communications.
Tiny predators in the soil can literally sniff out their prey: soil bacteria, which communicate with each other using scent. A team of researchers from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) has discovered that these predators - called protists - 'eavesdrop' on the bacteria's communication. It's a discovery that opens up perspectives for agriculture. The results are available online this month in The ISME Journal, from the publishers of Nature.
In nature, plants cannot grow without soil biota such as fungi and bacteria. Successful plants are able to harness positive, growth-promoting soil organisms while avoiding the negative effects of others. Which plant traits can predict these interactions, or the success of a plant? Researchers and plant breeders would like to know. In a paper in the Journal of Ecology of August 24, a team from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Wageningen University and the Universität Leipzig tested exactly this and found thick roots to be a leading trait.
Restoring nature, for instance on former farmland? That works a lot faster, more precise, and less disruptive via soil inoculation. Take a bit of healthy soil from a natural area close by and restore the desired type of nature within a couple of years. In the journal Nature Plants, the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) and Natuurmonumenten (Society for Nature Conservation) also solve a long-lasting subject of discussion: it’s the soil bugs that steer such nature restoration.
The soil expertise found at Wageningen enjoys international recognition. So it is only fitting that in 2015, the International Year of Soils, numerous activities are taking place in Wageningen. On Monday 26 January, various Wageningen-based institutions and organisations laid a plaque in the Walk of Fame on campus to kick off the IYS. The gesture symbolises their collaboration in the new Wageningen Soil Network.
Microbes can act as bodyguards for plants and can foster plant growth in other ways as well. At NIOO, we are digging into the mechanisms: in what ways do they interact? And how can we stimulate this, to make our agriculture more sustainable? Let's rewild our microbes!
Ever wonder what makes soil, soil? And could soil from the Amazon rainforest really be the same as soil from your garden? Researchers from the University of Manchester and the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) are using DNA sequencing to unlock the secrets of the world’s soils, and analyse ecological patterns and microbial communities on a global scale.