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Fire-induced changes on surface soil microbial communities in Mediterranean forests. Rehabilitation by addition of exogenous organic matter


Over 40.000 wildfires occur yearly in Mediterranean Europe causing devastating environmental damages: greenhouse gas emission, habitat destruction and accelerated desertification. Burning can sterilize the soil surface within minutes, whereas the recovery of the decomposer system and its ecosystem functions can take decades. Our knowledge on the effects of fire on the decomposer system mostly relies on surveys performed in humid climates. Thus, it is intended in this proposal to survey the fire-induced changes in the soil microbiota in Mediterranean forests. In particular we aim to: i) Analyse the effects of an experimentally controlled wildfire in a Mediterranean shrubland on the soil´s physical and chemical properties, as well as microbial biomass (microbial C content), activity (ATP content and respiration), ability to consume a range of C substrates (MicroResp), and several hydrolases linked to the C, N and P cycles, ii) Investigate fire as an ecological filter selecting for endosporulating bacterial groups. We will analyse the bacterial community structure (denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of 16S rRNA gene amplicons) in pre- and post-fire samples. Based on these results, adequate samples will be selected for generating clone libraries to construct the phylogeny of the regional bacterial community. We expect that endosporulating bacteria, with their higher resistance to heating, will be overrepresented in the post-fire community, what will be analysed using the picante library of R. If demonstrated, this would imply the loss of phylogenetic diversity, which is the key component of biodiversity determining the ecosystem functioning, iii) Evaluate the restoration of soil properties after applying exogenous organic matter. We will investigate in a microcosm experiment whether the addition of composts accelerates the recovery of the pre-fire microbially-mediated ecosystem processes.

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/botany
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/microbiology/bacteriology
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/ecology/ecosystems
  • /engineering and technology/environmental biotechnology/bioremediation/compost

Call for proposal

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Funding Scheme

MC-ERG - European Re-integration Grants (ERG)


Calle Serrano 117
28006 Madrid
Activity type
Research Organisations
EU contribution
€ 45 000
Administrative Contact
Carlos Manuel Abad-Ruíz (Mr.)