Rothamsted Research

where knowledge grows

Soil Biodiversity

Soil Biodiversity

Thursday, 16 July, 2015 -
19:30 to 21:30
Public Meeting

Soil Biodiversity: How to Explore and Utilise Life in Soils?

Join us for this public meeting as part of our event series to mark 2015 as the International Year of Soils and to celebrate our soil science research.

Professor Richard Bardgett, University of Manchester and Professor Penny Hirsch, Rothamsted Research will explore challenges and advances in the study of soil microbes, the interactions between plants and soil, and how findings can be used to benefit humans and the environment.

The Public Meeting events will be very popular, please reserve your free tickets at:

Professor Richard D. Bardgett

‘The incredible diversity of life in soil’

Belowground biodiversity is largely out of sight and mind, but there is mounting evidence to show that the vast diversity of microorganisms and animals that live belowground contribute significantly to shaping the structure and function of terrestrial ecosystems. This talk will consider new insights into the distribution and ecological roles of belowground biodiversity, and consider some of consequences of changing soil biodiversity under future environmental change.  

Richard D. Bardgett is Professor of Ecology at The University of Manchester. He is author of more than 200 peer-reviewed papers on aspects of soil ecology, and has written several books, including the Biology of Soil (OUP, 2005), which won the 2006 Marsh Ecology Book of the Year Award. Richard is a member of the Rothamsted Board of Directors and was, until recently, Vice President of the British Ecological Society. 

Professor Penny Hirsch 

‘Microbial biodiversity in agricultural soils – does it matter?’

Microorganisms are an integral part of fertile soils and contribute to nutrient cycling and plant health.  Modern intensive agriculture is credited with increasing crop yields but also with degrading soil structure and quality.  Field experiments at Rothamsted Research provide contrasting soils where the consequences of different treatments (some >150 years) for soil microorganisms can be assessed.  The rates of decline and recovery and the distinction between the presence and activity of different organisms will be discussed.

Penny Hirsch is a microbiologist at Rothamsted Research who has been investigating soil microbial ecology in agricultural systems for many years. She has worked with fungi and bacteria, on rhizosphere interactions and other activity in soil that supports plant health and productivity, including nitrogen cycling. She uses molecular approaches to link population size and diversity with functions relevant to promoting sustainable crop production, in recent years applying metagenomics and metatranscriptomics to the long-term field experiments at Rothamsted.


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