Project properties

Title Can microbial communities promote soil C sequestration
Group Soil Biology
Project type thesis
Credits 24-39
Supervisor(s) Gabriel Moinet (SBL), Mathilde Hagens (SOC)
Examiner(s) prof.dr. Rachel Creamer (SBL) or Prof. dr. Rob Comans (SOC)
Contact info Gabriel Moinet (SBL), Mathilde Hagens (SOC
Begin date 2021/09/01
End date
Description Managing terrestrial ecosystems to increase the carbon contained in soils can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. As such, it is recognised as one of a few realistic strategies to curb climate change. Soil carbon is also key to supporting ecosystem functioning and is therefore critical for sustainable land use. However, our understanding of soil carbon dynamics is still limited and hinders accurate predictions of the evolution of climate and the development and farming practices promoting or maintaining the broad range of ecosystem services supported by soil carbon. Emerging understanding suggests that the large diversity of microbes could positively influence stabilisation of carbon in interaction with the soil mineral phase.

In this project, you will investigate the integrating roles of soil microbial diversity and soil mineralogy in regulating soil carbon cycling. In an incubation experiment with a soil enriched in 13C, you will manipulate specific surface area (by adding different minerals) and carbon source (by adding different substrates). You will trace the substrate both in the microbial biomass and in different soil organic matter pools. This will provide information on the interactions between biotic and abiotic factors on carbon stabilisation, thereby bridging fundamental knowledge gaps in soil ecology and soil chemistry. The results also will inform farmers and policy makers of the potential benefits of promoting soil life for climate change mitigation and sustainable production.
Used skills Literature review, writing proposal and thesis, experimental design, chemical and biological laboratory work, data analysis.
Requirements Required courses for MSc thesis Soil Biology (see Mandatory Knowledge at https://wur.osiris-student.nl/#/onderwijscatalogus/extern/cursus/?cursuscode=SBL81836&collegejaar=huidig