Presentation award for Paula Harkes

Published on
February 15, 2019

Paula Harkes has got a presentation award at the Netherlands Annual Ecology Meeting (NAEM) for her presentation "Fine-mapping rhizosphere communities: opening Pandora’s black box?"

The NAEM (Netherlands Annual Ecology Meeting) is two full days, each day consisting of a plenary session, in which a Dutch/Flemish and an international world leader present their view on a specific topic in ecology or evolution, two sets of five parallel sessions (including more workshop-like sessions), and a poster session. Parallel sessions generally consists of 6 oral presentations, thus leading to a total of approximately 125 oral presentations. On average, there are about 75-100 scientific poster presentations during the meeting. NERN has awards the three best oral presentations of the NAEM Meeting.


The most intensive interactions between microbes and plants take place at the rhizosphere, which is the interface between plant roots and their surrounding soil. Understanding the functioning of the rhizobiome in its full complexity requires powerful tools to map the inhabitants of this community. Combining the DNA and RNA profile can provide useful information about stimulated fractions within your population at the instant of measuring, resulting in an improved interpretation of ecosystem functioning. Here we monitored the bacterial, fungal, protists and nematode community in the rhizosphere of barley under three distinct soil management regimes, for two developmental stages of the crop, in two different locations. Total DNA and RNA was isolated (in-house protocol) from rhizosphere samples - 104 rhizosphere samples, for each sample DNA and cDNA was analysed separately. First of all, very significant difference was seen at the active (cDNA) and resident community (DNA). Also a location effects was observed for all four organismal groups. Superposed on the location effects, clear effects of organic, integrated and conventional could be pinpointed. To the best of our knowledge this is the first time four mayor key organismal groups players of the soil food web are simultaneously mapped in order to obtain insight in the effects of soil management practices.