BSc Thesis Topic: DNA based monitoring of nematode assemblages as a proxy for ecological soil condition

Soil is probably the most densely inhabited habitat von our planet; it is teeming with life. For many reasons - ecological, eco-toxicological, agricultural – we would like to make a statement about the health situation of a soil.

The overwhelming biodiversity makes it at least unpractical to try to make an overall inventory of soil life. Instead we use groups of soil inhabitants that reflect the overall ecological status of a soil. Nematodes are often used for this purpose mainly because of their trophic diversity; different groups feed on bacteria, fungi, protozoa or other nematodes. Therefore, nematodes assemblages mirror the conditions of e.g. the bacterial and fungal communities. Within this project you will investigate natural variations in nematodes assemblages due to season, rainfall, temperature, changes in vegetation etc. The establishment of a normal operating range (NOR) will allow us to define (undesired) structural changes in soil life. Q-PCR based community analyses will be a central tool in this BSc subject.

Two students taking soil samples in the Veluwe area/Picture: Jet Vervoort
Two students taking soil samples in the Veluwe area/Picture: Jet Vervoort