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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.
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.
Woodlice have for the first time been dethroned as the most spotted soil animals in Dutch gardens. The third edition of the nationwide Soil Animal Days saw arachnoids seize the top spot, with earthworms a close second. A probable explanation for the shift is the extremely wet weather at the onset of autumn. Fortunately, that didn't stop some 600 enthousiasts from counting the soil animals in their gardens.
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.
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.
Restoring nature is not for the impatient: it takes a lot of time before the right plant species establish themselves. But experiments show there's a way to speed up the process, from decades to just a few years. A new website from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) tells you everything you need to know. Meanwhile, one of the researchers working on this pioneering approach defended his PhD thesis this week.
More organic matter in the soil may be beneficial for the climate, but contrary to what's been assumed it doesn't automatically increase crop yield. The amount is not the only factor, concludes research by NIOO's Stijn van Gils: it also depends on the context.
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.