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Research

Soils carry the whole plant production of terrestrial habitat on earth and insure a key part of the element turnover in ecosystems, including their exchange with atmosphere and water. The formation and functions of soils rely on intermingled physical, chemical, but moreover biological processes. And in fact one of the largest parts of the global organisms lives in soils.

In this context, the department investigates the impact of land use and the diversity of plant species on:

  • the amount, availability and complex formation of soil organic matter and of elements such as nitrogen and phosphorus,
  • the activity of enzymes and microbial biomass in soils,
  • the structural and functional diversity of soil bacteria and soil fungi.
Furthermore, the mechanisms of complex interactions between soil microorganisms and plants are studied, in particular in mycorrhizae, a symbiosis between microscopic fungi and roots.

In this context, chemical, microbiological and physiological analyses are used and increasingly combined with molecular biological methods. The analyses are performed on simple culture or incubation systems in microcosms, on potted plants, but also in the field in manipulative experiments or along regional and trans-regional transects.

Our research is carried out on own platforms or as part of national and international joint projects.