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Vidi grant awarded to Nadia Soudzilovskaia (CML)

On 11 May 2016 a prestigious NWO Vidi grant (NWO's Innovation Research Incentives scheme) has been awarded to Nadia Soudzilovskaia for her research proposal entitled “Do mycorrhizal fungi mediate soil carbon fate?”, aimed to understand mycorrhizal impact on soil carbon sequestration.

Research objectives

Soil carbon sequestration is an important but hardly  understood mechanism counterbalancing atmospheric CO2 emissions and thereby climate change. Poor understanding of soil carbon budget is a key gap in our knowledge about fundamental principles of Earth biogeochemical cycling, preventing taking land management actions to reduce terrestrial carbon emissions. An important biotic determinant of soil carbon transformations is mycorrhiza, a plant-fungal symbiosis featured by nearly all vascular plants on Earth. Mycorrhizae have different forms, among which arbuscular and ectomycorrhiza (AM and EM) are the most wide-spread. Growing evidence suggests that vegetation stands featuring either mycorrhizal type differently relate to principle aspects of belowground carbon accumulation processes. However, the mechanisms through which different mycorrhizal fungi cause differential impacts on soil carbon cycling, and implications thereof are unclear.

Research aim

This project aims to fill the principle knowledge gap with regard to soil carbon accumulation processes: to reveal if and how AM and EM fungi differently affect soil carbon cycling.

The outcomes of this project will help us to predict how appearance and/or enhancement of AM plants in EM-dominated sites, and vice versa affect regional carbon cycling via functioning of mycorrhizal fungi. This will aid developing policy measures to anticipate increases in soil carbon emissions due to introduction or invasion of plants bringing new mycorrhizal types into an ecosystem. 

The project will be conducted in collaboration with European Commission Soil Data Centre (ESDAC) and the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM).

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