Climate change is leading to more extreme weather events, such as droughts and heatwaves. This is acutely illustrated by the hot and dry summers that we have experienced in Europe three years in a row now. The aboveground effects of drought are obvious: plants stop growing, turn brown, and might die, which can lead to changes in plant community composition. But belowground, hidden from our eyes, the consequences of drought are at least as drastic: during drought and especially after rewetting strong changes in microbial communities occur, and these changes can have long-lasting consequences for their functioning.
In our research, we aim to elucidate the mechanisms through which drought and other extreme events such as flooding and heatwaves affect soil microbial communities. While the direct effects of these disturbances on soil microbial communities are relatively well-understood, we mostly focus on indirect effects through changes in plant physiology, growth, and community composition. We are particularly interested in the effects that changes in plant root exudation under these disturbances can have on soil microbial communities.
Scientists involved in this research
Franciska de Vries2 (PI)
1 The University of Manchester
2 University of Amsterdam
In cooporation with
Chris Knight, The University of Manchester
Rob Griffiths, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) Bangor
Harro Bouwmeester, University of Amsterdam
Albert Tietema, University of Amsterdam