Germany Project Notice - Microbial Soil Colonization And Structure Formation By Fungal Hyphae Mediated Transport

Project Notice

PNR 62460
Project Name Microbial soil colonization and structure formation by fungal hyphae mediated transport
Project Detail Exploring the migration mechanisms of soil microbes Soil microbes play a vital role in recycling and distributing nutrients that promote root growth. Their activity essentially determines soil fertility and the overall health of plant life. Given the current rates of soil degradation, a better understanding of soil microbe migration and colonisation could lead to the revitalisation of contaminated or infertile soil. The MSCA-funded MICOL-FUNTRANS project will investigate the mechanism of fungal hyphae mediated transport, where fungal hyphae facilitate bacteria translocation. Initially, the project aims to characterise and identify migrating microbes in simulated conditions. It will then use the findings to conduct groundbreaking in situ research on soil development in the barren foreland of an Arctic glacier. Microbes in soil drive ecosystem services defining life on the Earth. Translocation of these microbes is key features in the spatial exploration of soil. This directly impacts major ecological processes such as niche colonization and the development of soil structure, but knowledge of how microbes migrate in soil is scarce. A potential universal mechanism is fungal hyphae mediated transport (FHMT) where bacteria use hyphae of fungi as a route to translocate in a directed manner. However, this has been solely observed in the laboratory, but not in soil where single-cell level studies are restricted by technical limits. MICOL-FUNTRANS overcomes these limitations by developing and exploiting a novel system combining microfluidics, microbiological and microscopical methods to i) observe microbial movement in soil-like systems and ii) identify single involved organisms. Micro-channels will provide treatments to compare soil colonization and structure formation with and without FHMT. Ultimately, findings will be upscaled to an ecological level in a dedicated field study using a glacier forefield in the Arctic, which constitutes a unique natural laboratory to study initial soil development as ongoing climate change melts glaciers and frees vast areas of barren soil at present. The results of this project will foster an integrated view on the soil biome and push research on bacterial-fungal interactions to the centre of attention in soil microbiology and related industries. Specifically, knowledge of migration rates of microbes in soil will impact models on nutrient distribution and efforts in bioremediation of contaminated soil. A better understanding of the initial stages of soil structure formation at the micro-scale will impact efforts in soil quality and health preservation related actions, a topic of highest societal and economic interest as the degradation of soil is one of the most pressing environmental threads we are currently facing.
Funded By European Union (EU)
Sector BPO
Country Germany , Western Europe
Project Value EUR 189,687

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