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The importance of plant-soil interactions in ecosystems

Dr Dave Johnson, University of Aberdeen

Wednesday 22 June 2011, 1600-1700
LEC Training Rooms 1 And 2

Biodiversity and Global Change Theme Seminar

Plants interact both directly and indirectly with a plethora of soil microorganisms, and in many cases the intimacy, ubiquity and function of these interactions is central in regulating key ecosystem services. In particular, the formation of root-fungal symbioses (mycorrhizas) has the potential to profoundly affect the turnover of carbon and mineral nutrients, and to influence the nutrition and diversity of plants in semi-natural systems. It is therefore crucial to understand, firstly, the importance of plant-microbial interactions for regulating biogeochemical cycling in key ecosystems, including montane heaths, peatlands, grasslands, and forests, and secondly, the extent to which these interactions are affected by perturbations, including changes in climate, land management and nutrient deposition. Here I will discuss recent experiments that have used field and laboratory manipulations and stable isotope tracers to address these issues and go to show that plant-soil interactions are central in regulating ecosystem functioning.