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Soil Ecology and Ecosystem Services$
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Diana H. Wall, Richard D. Bardgett, Valerie Behan-Pelletier, Jeffrey E. Herrick, T. Hefin Jones, Karl Ritz, Johan Six, Donald R. Strong, and Wim H. van der Putten

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199575923

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199575923.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 25 October 2021

From Single Genes to Microbial Networks

From Single Genes to Microbial Networks

(p.65) Chapter 2.1 From Single Genes to Microbial Networks
Soil Ecology and Ecosystem Services

Evelyn Hackl

Michael Schloter

Ute Szukics

Levente Bodrossy

Angela Sessitsch

Oxford University Press

Soil microorganisms are basal components of the soil food web and hold key positions in terrestrial biogeochemical cycling; thereby they mediate the provision of vital ecosystem services. From single genes to microbial networks, this chapter highlights the interactive and co-operative behaviour displayed by soil microbial communities. It portrays our current understanding of the functional networks that are formed by soil microorganisms, both from intra- and inter-species perspectives, and across microbial and other organismal groups. The chapter first illustrates the various roles of soil microbial communities for ecosystem functioning, and then presents an overview of the methodological toolbox that is currently available for studying microbial communities in the soil environment. While studying microbial genes in their environmental context has added enormously to our understanding of the soil ecosystem, we are only gradually gaining knowledge of the mechanisms and processes underlying microbial controls on ecosystem functioning. This is exemplified via microbial networks accomplishing organic matter degradation and biogeochemical cycling, which have been specifically tracked via the analysis of functional marker genes. The chapter also illustrates how functional gene-based analysis has enabled the exploration of microbial communication networks, and has allowed insights into the complex interrelations between microorganisms and plants. Finally, it concedes that the current concept of microbial controls on ecosystem functioning is continuously challenged by the discovery of novel processes and organisms. It suggests that as new insights evolve into how soil microbial communities contribute to soil functioning, this will enhance our abilities to sustain and promote soil ecosystem services.

Keywords:   functional marker genes, microbial communication, molecular analysis, nitrogen cycling, plant–microbe interactions, soil metagenome, soil microbial communities

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