Making sure native soil microbes are not adversely affected by fungal fertilisers
The use of microorganisms from nature to combat agricultural pests and provide essential nutrients for growth is an important way to reduce the use of harsher chemical pesticides and fertilisers. However, while it is known that introducing non-native species affects ecosystems on a macroscale, the effect of these microorganisms on the endemic microbial species and local community functions in soil has not been studied in depth. The EU-funded ALIENinSoil project is investigating the effects of a fungus, widely used as biofertiliser, on microbial communities in a model soil system. Utilising Oxford Nanopore Technologies sequencing, which enables the direct, real-time analysis of long DNA fragments, the team will evaluate if the presence of this foreign fungus affects the growth and functioning of the native microorganisms.