Soil Quality Indicators

The soil quality indicator work package is hosted by RIJKSUNIVERSITEIT GRONINGEN (RUG), The Netherlands and aims at the establishment of a quantitative index of soil quality based on bioindicators by establishing an operational definition of soil quality, by developing bioindicators based on abundance and activity of soil microorganisms and by validating the concept of minimal resilience community as a bioindicator (KU, RUG, HMGU, ECL, IMIC, AU, BioSRO).

The task for this work package will be allocated between responsible partners as follows:

  • Establish quantitative molecular tools for analysis of specific bioindicators using Q-PCR (KU).
  • Identify key organisms and soil quality taking into account the minimal resilience concept. (RUG).
  • Develop bioindicators that report on key sensitive processes – abundance, richness and evenness (RUG).
  • Initiate simplified diversity estimators to be used as bioindicator indices for soil impact measurements (ECL).
  • Identification of microorganisms active in selected soil processes (e.g. organic matter transformation) by transcriptomics and specific labelling using stable isotopes (IMIC).
  • Standardize and apply metabolic profiling (e.g. Micro-Resp and PLFA assay) for identification of functional and structural diversity of soil microbial communities (AU).
  • Development and on-site implementation of nucleic acids - based diagnostics. Purification of nucleic acids from contaminated and low-DNA-content samples (BioSRO).