Interactions between free living nematodes, microbes and plants: effects on soil nutrient cycling and microbial properties

Introduction

Free living soil nematodes are extremely abundant (3.5-5 million m-2) and diverse (33-384 species m-2) in terrestrial ecosystems. They have evolved a diversity of feeding mechanisms and occupy key positions in the soil food web that enabled them to highly interact with microbes, other soil fauna, plants and among themselves. Several soil ecosystem processes and services such as nutrient organic matter decomposition and nutrient cycling in soil is mainly controlled by these complex multi-trophic interactions in which nematodes of different feeding groups play direct and indirect roles.

Objectives

In this project we are interested to investigate the role and contribution of nematodes to nutrient mineralization and cycling mainly C, N, P and S. We optimize and apply selective sterilization techniques such as gamma irradiation that eliminate nematodes while keeping the microflora intact. Interactions between microbes, the entire free living nematodes and plants and their effect on nutrient availability, plant uptake and microbial properties are the main objectives of this project.

Researcher: dr. MSc. Mesfin Tsegaye Gebremikael
Period: 2010-2014
Financing body: BOF project
Promoter: Prof. Stefaan De Neve