Bodenmikrobiologie und Klimawandel
MICROVALU - Evaluating microbiodiversity in alpine pastures

When we think about habitats that are important for our wellbeing, we do not often think about soil. And yet, the soil allows us to cultivate crops, feed our livestock and grow trees for fuel and construction material. Despite soil being crucial to sustainable agriculture, very little is known about how soil, plant roots and soil organisms depend on one another to provide us with these services. Even less is known about the soil of grazing pastures, one of the most characteristic, and economically and culturally important Alpine habitats.



The project MICROVALU will bring together experts in soil ecology, microbiology, botany and zoology from across the Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino EUREGIO to try to understand how the microorganisms within soil and those attached to animals and plants interact in Alpine pastures.

We will also test if these microorganisms change according to soil characteristics like content of organic matter and humidity, to the diversity of animal communities themselves, or to elevation. The effect of elevation is particularly relevant because, by understanding how elevation changes the interactions in the soil, we can understand how climate might change the microbial biodiversity and the fertility of alpine pastures in the future. DNA will be extracted from various samples (soil, plant roots, worms, animal faeces, etc.) and for each sample, all of the microorganisms can be identified simultaneously by new sequencing techniques. We will then combine all the data to discover how the different site parameters, soil properties and biotic components interact.

EUREGIO Project team: Julia Seeber (Eurac Research), Heidi C. Hauffe (Fondazione Edmund Mach), Paul Illmer (Universität Innsbruck)

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