The Soil Microbiome: Linking Soil Biodiversity to Soil Health and Ecosystem Services


Project Description:

Understanding the microbial world in the soil is key to finding sustainable agricultural practices that work to protect the environment. Using a unique approach that combines the disciplines of soil science and molecular biology, we are able to quantify microbial functions in their native environments – a key component in predicting many microbially-driven environmental processes. We develop scientifically validated tools to address complex global challenges including anti-microbial resistance, soil protection, water quality, and climate change. In this way, this project aims to link link shifts in soil microbial communities with soil ecosystem services in agricultural cropping systems.


  1. To use meta-genomic techniques to examine the impact of nitripyrin inhibitors on N2O emissions.
  2. To evaluate if shifting from a simple rotation (corn-soybean) to a more complex crop rotation (ie., corn-soy-wheat with intercrops or cover crops) will change the abundance and activity of key soil microbial groups, with a focus on phosphorus cycling.
  3. To determine the impact of growing diverse cover crop mixtures on soil bacterial and fungal biodiversity, in particular we will focus on the shifts in litter decomposition in cover cropping systems, and the microbial communities responsible for litter decomposition.



Funding Sources:

Food From Thought, Grain Farmers of Ontario, NSERC

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