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How do biotic and environmental variation affect soil microbial community composition and functioning across spatial scales?


Soil microbial communities hold sway over numerous processes upon which we depend, driving the cycling of elements which sustain life, but also compromising food security and human health. Understanding the mechanisms driving existing soil microbial community diversity and function across disparate climates and ecological communities is key in order to determine future ecosystem responses to global change. Although studies aiming to characterise soil microbes are increasing in their scope, they will only capture the multifaceted interaction between diverse microbial communities if they measure the effects of above ground plant communities and the abiotic environment, when measured at appropriate scales across landscapes. The proposed MICOCO project will address these shortfalls to achieve the following objectives: [1] Determine the relative contribution of above ground plant community and soil abiotic conditions to SMC diversity and composition; [2] Determine how climate influences microbial community turnover at varying spatial scales; [3] Reveal the relative effects of microclimate, microbe-microbe associations, and microbe-plant associations on microbial function. These objectives will be achieved using novel datasets built on the latest techniques in the sampling of environmental DNA (eDNA). These were collected at local scales (1-100m) in an innovative climate controlled mesocosm, and at landscape scales (100m->100km) as part of pioneering national surveys of soils. Cutting edge modelling techniques will be used to generate microclimate measures, and the latest Joint Species Distribution Models will determine association patterns within soil microbial communities, coupled with functional trait databases to identify plant pathogens and appropriately infer interactions. MICOCO will thus help to reveal microbial community and species level responses to changes in climate, and improve our understand of the effects of global change on their functioning.

Call for proposal

See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

MSCA-IF-EF-ST - Standard EF


The Queen's Drive Northcote House
EX4 4QJ Exeter
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 212 933,76