Skin Care for Mother Earth
Soil, the living skin of the Earth, provides ecosystem services critical for life: soil acts as a water filter and a growing medium, offers habitat for billions of organisms, and supplies most of the antibiotics. Presently, one third of all land is degraded to some extent, and fertile soil is lost every year. Soil degradation results in a loss of fertile topsoil, thereby altering the soil hydrology completely. Yet, soil hydrology is key for a healthy functioning topsoil/soil ecosystem. This calls for an urgent effort to find solutions that truly restore fertile topsoil in a short amount of time.
In this project we investigate a possibility of restoring degraded soil using microorganisms. The hypothesis is that microorganisms can improve soil hydraulic properties such as infiltration and water retention, and reduce hydrophobicity that will facilitate further ecosystem restoration. Such strategy is based on combining the research fields of microbiology and soil physics that to date have hardly been combined.