Soil protistology rebooted: 30 fundamental questions to start with

Geisen, Stefan; Mitchell, Edward A.D.; Wilkinson, David M.; Adl, Sina; Bonkowski, Michael; Brown, Matthew W.; Fiore-Donno, Anna Maria; Heger, Thierry J.; Jassey, Vincent E.J.; Krashevska, Valentyna; Lahr, Daniel J.G.; Marcisz, Katarzyna; Mulot, Matthieu; Payne, Richard; Singer, David; Anderson, O.R.; Charman, Dan J.; Ekelund, Flemming; Griffiths, Bryan S.; Rønn, Regin; Smirnov, Alexey; Bass, David; Belbahri, Lassaâd; Berney, Cédric; Blandenier, Quentin; Chatzinotas, Antonis; Clarholm, Marianne; Dunthorn, Micah; Feest, Alan; Fernández, Leonardo D.; Foissner, Wilhelm; Fournier, Bertrand; Gentekaki, Eleni; Hájek, Michal; Helder, Johannes; Jousset, Alexandre; Koller, Robert; Kumar, Santosh; Terza, Antonietta La; Lamentowicz, Mariusz; Mazei, Yuri; Santos, Susana S.; Seppey, Christophe V.W.; Spiegel, Frederick W.; Walochnik, Julia; Winding, Anne; Lara, Enrique


Protists are the most diverse eukaryotes. These microbes are keystone organisms of soil ecosystems and<br/>regulate essential processes of soil fertility such as nutrient cycling and plant growth. Despite this,<br/>protists have received little scientific attention, especially compared to bacteria, fungi and nematodes in<br/>soil studies. Recent methodological advances, particularly in molecular biology techniques, have made<br/>the study of soil protists more accessible, and have created a resurgence of interest in soil protistology.<br/>This ongoing revolution now enables comprehensive investigations of the structure and functioning of<br/>soil protist communities, paving the way to a new era in soil biology. Instead of providing an exhaustive<br/>review, we provide a synthesis of research gaps that should be prioritized in future studies of soil<br/>protistology to guide this rapidly developing research area. Based on a synthesis of expert opinion we<br/>propose 30 key questions covering a broad range of topics including evolution, phylogenetics, functional<br/>ecology, macroecology, paleoecology, and methodologies. These questions highlight a diversity of topics<br/>that will establish soil protistology as a hub discipline connecting different fundamental and applied<br/>fields such as ecology, biogeography, evolution, plant-microbe interactions, agronomy, and conservation<br/>biology. We are convinced that soil protistology has the potential to be one of the most exciting frontiers<br/>in biology.