Dr. Thorunn Helgason, Senior Lecturer at Department of Biology, University of York will present her research:
The expanding global human population depends on soils for agriculture and forestry production. Many other ecosystem properties and services such as flood and drought mitigation, and biodiversity also depend upon the existence of healthy soils. But soil is a finite resource, and is being lost at much greater rates than new soil is formed. Policy makers and researchers are increasingly trying to understand what defines a “healthy” soil, how that can be measured, and what steps are needed to restore and maintain soil health. It is clear that many of the important processes and transitions in soil are microbial in origin.
In this talk, I will present our work on a working farm in Yorkshire, UK where detailed studies of soil microbial communities using high throughput sequencing technologies are giving insights into how modern farming affects the soil ecosystem. A better understanding of the composition, structure and function of soil microbial communities will show what management practices are best for soil function, so that all the properties of soils on which we are so dependent, can be maintained.