We study various aspects of the microbial ecology of soils and plants. An overarching line is how soils and plants interact through microbial communities in terms of nutrient flows, plant community composition and biodiversity, and soil integrity.
The work stems from a fascination of how these various interactions currently shape soil microbial networks, the vegetation and cycling of nutrients, but also how these processes may change in response to environmental changes such as land use, nutrient inputs, and drought.
One important player we work on are the mycorrhizal fungi, which are part of an ancient symbiosis with plants. These fungi are crucial for nutrient uptake of a large number of plants, but also act as a gateway of plant sugars to soil, thereby having a major influence on soil and its (microbial) inhabitants. Through taking the biology and evolutionary context of microbial interaction networks into account, we expect to come to a deeper understanding of how the environment shapes ecosystems and vice versa.
The field systems currently studied in the lab include tropical rainforests, heathlands, temperate grasslands, subarctic Iceland, and peatlands.