PhD defence

PhD defence of Paula Harkes - A leap towards unravelling the soil microbiome

Title thesis: A leap towards unravelling the soil microbiome

PhD candidate ms. P (Paula) Harkes MSc
Promotor J (Jaap) Bakker
Co-promotor J (Hans) Helder
Organisation Wageningen University, Laboratory of Nematology

Fri 10 January 2020 16:00 to 17:30



Soil is the groundwork of ecosystem functioning as it filters and stores freshwater, provides essential nutrients for plant growth, and regulates the earth’s temperature. Essential for this functioning is the abundance and diversity of the microbial life living in soil. However, as the majority of soil organisms are not culturable, for a long time it was impossible to identify all biota present in soil. Nowadays, using molecular markers (both DNA and RNA) as a proxy, it is possible to map soil communities much faster and in greater detail. Therefore, we have new opportunities to deepen our understanding of the soil microbiome in different contexts. One area of specific interest is the rhizosphere, soil in the direct vicinity of plant roots. Plants are able to influence the rhizosphere by releasing a broad range of carbon-containing substances in the soil, resulting in selection and boosting a subset of the soil living community. The central aim was to explore to what extent plants are able to affect the rhizosphere food web to their own benefit under different circumstances.