Unraveling Changes In Soil Microbial Function

 

Professor Brajesh Singh and Prof Peter Reich have been awarded an ARC Discovery Project grant to examine the microbial regulation of soil functions.

Diverse soils support diverse communities: If soil microbial diversity is important for ecosystem function, then we need to know this given the future environmental challenges the Earth faces
Diverse soils support diverse communities: If soil microbial diversity is important for ecosystem function, then we need to know this given the future environmental challenges the Earth faces.

"There are vast below-ground soil microbial communities", explains Professor Singh.

"These microbe communities are important but unseen contributors to terrestrial ecosystems, and they drive key processes such as carbon and nutrient cycles. We've paid a lot of attention to the relationship between an ecosystems health and biodiversity in above ground communities, but very little notice has been taken of what goes on beneath the surface."

"We want to find out if the things we know about above-ground communities can be applied below-ground, especially if below-ground health is better when biodiversity is greater. If soil microbial diversity is important for ecosystem function, then we need to know this given the future environmental challenges the Earth faces".

This project will study the relationship between microbial diversity, soil function and ecosystem stability and the role diversity plays in the resilience of microbial communities to disturbance, using both experimental and modelling approaches.

We understand more about the relationship between an ecosystem's health and biodiversity in above ground communities than we do about what goes on beneath the surface."

Indigenous microflora will be studied and soil samples from selected sites will be collected, sieved and the microbial community extracted.

These samples will be examined to study the relationship between microbial diversity, soil function and ecosystem stability, and the role diversity plays in resilience of microbial communities.

The site types selected from within NSW and Queensland include native forest, pasture and arable areas with soil types ranging from sandy to clay loam.

The healthy functioning of soil is at the heart of ecosystems, providing food for an ever growing population, sequestering carbon for climate regulation and providing quality habitat to support plant and animal biodiversity.

This project (P00020778) "Can ecological theory help to unravel microbial regulation of soil functions?" is funded by the Australian Research Council