With 47 authors of the soil protist initiative, led by Stefan Geisen and with involvement of Hans Helder both from the Laboratory of Nematology at Wageningen UR, an important opinion paper to highlight 30 key questions on soil protists was just published in Soil Biology and Biochemistry. This paper shows that protists are a highly underrepresented group of soil organisms, especially compared with the other microbial bacteria and fungi. But there are several reasons why protists are important!
Protists are incredibly diverse!
· Protists are taxonomically highly diverse; they represent the majority of the eukaryotic tree of life where fungi, plants and animals are small monophyletic groups.
· We also highlight that protists are morphologically diverse, ranging from bacterial sized taxa of few micrometers to several centimeters.
· Furthermore, protists span a huge functional diversity of organisms; in addition to the mainly considered bacterivorous taxa, many protists feed on fungi, nematodes, a huge diversity is parasitic to animals and pathogenic in plants.
Protists are of key importance in soils!
· Without protists bacteria and fungi would have few enemies!
· They are a key link in soil food webs- without them most animals had no food!
· Without protists, plants would suffer nutrient limitation!
This is just a fraction of what is highlighted in the paper. For more info, check a free link to the paper (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0038071717301219). More updates on soil protists can be accessed directly at the soil protist initiative pages https://soilprotists.wordpress.com/ and https://www.researchgate.net/project/Soil-protist-initiative.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and be connected- protists are a key part of future research!