The most abundant and diverse organisms on the planet are microorganisms – the drivers of several ecosystem services. We have advanced our knowledge on their taxonomic distribution and the main abiotic parameters that determine microbial communities. While also the bottom-up role of plants in shaping microbiome structures are known, the importance of top-down predation on microbiome assembly remains hardly studied and so far is suggested to be of minor importance.
Focusing on soils, I will introduce the arguably most important controllers of microbiomes: protists and nematodes. Protists are microorganisms that represent the most diverse eukaryotes. Nematodes are the most abundant animals on earth. For both groups, I will show the current state-of-knowledge on their community structure and distribution in soils. While little is known on their function, I will provide some examples of the pivotal importance of these predators in microbial-mediated soil functioning. I will show some ongoing method developments that enable user-friendly work on protists and nematodes, which minimize methodological constraints that have impeded research on these microbiome predators. Together, I will highlight that protists and nematodes should find their way into more mainstream (soil) microbial and ecological work to complete our understanding on microbiome functioning.
About the Speaker: Stefan Geisen (Group Leader/Staff Member, Netherland Institute for Ecology)
Dr. Stefan Geisen is a group leader and staff member of the Netherland Institute for Ecology (NIOO), in Wageningen, the Netherlands. His research is focused on understanding whether soil biodiversity affects plant performance, both of crop plant species and even more of natural (early- and mid-successional) plant species. I will focus on soil protists and a diversity gradient of up to 100 species, a diversity that to date has never been touched in diversity-functioning experiments.
Sponsored by Javier Ceja Navarro