Soil legacy effects on plant biotic interactions

Soil legacy effects on plant biotic interactions

Terrestrial Ecology

Contact Person:

Droevendaalsesteeg 10
6708 PB Wageningen

Plants alter the soil in which they grow. For instance, they change the chemistry as well as the soil microbial community in their rhizosphere e.g. through root exudates. Subsequently, the changes in soil microbial communities alter the success of plants growing later in that same soil. This process is called “plant soil feedback” and plants are thus leaving a “legacy” in the soil.

We are interested in how different plant species change the soil microbial community, especially the community of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, and how that changes the interactions of later growing plants with plant-parasitic nematodes. Moreover, the way in which plants alter the soil microbial community may be strongly dependent on abiotic conditions, for instance, the occurrence of (climate change induced) droughts.

In this project we study soil legacy effects of a native (Centaurea jacea) and a range-expanding plant (C. stoebe) on the interactions of subsequently grown plants with plant-parasitic nematodes, and how these depend on drought episodes experienced during the formation of such legacies.

Your project

The department of Terrestrial Ecology is looking for an enthusiastic bachelor or master student to participate in this plant-microbe-nematode interaction project (either internship or thesis). We hope that you can start at the beginning of December 2022 or January 2023. At this moment, there are several topics: 1. the impact of soil legacy effects on litter decomposition; 2. the impact of soil moisture on AMF colonization of the native and a range-expanding herb; 3. the impact of soil legacy effects on root-feeding nematode abundance. You will be working in a positive and enthusiastic environment in which we offer reliable support. Hope you can join our team!