Soil C cycling in a changing world: The role of root-microbe interactions

Franciska de Vries1

1Professor of Earth Surface Science, BBSRC David Phillips Fellow, University of Amsterdam, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, The Netherlands

Soil microbial communities play an important role in ecosystem functioning: they perform important steps in soil nutrient and carbon cycles and feed back to plant performance and community composition. Plants strongly alter the soil environment through root processes and are therefore likely to modify how soil microbial communities, and their functioning, respond to changing environmental conditions. Here, I will present the results from three experiments, ranging from field-based mesocosm, to glasshouse, to growth chamber experiments. Using these case studies, I will highlight different mechanisms through which roots can alter belowground microbial response to changes in plant community composition and drought, and the consequences for ecosystem functioning, including plant growth and community composition.


Franciska de Vries is Professor of Earth Surface Science at the University of Amsterdam. Franciska did her PhD in Wageningen, the Netherlands, and then spent 10 years in the UK at Lancaster University and The University of Manchester, before she returned to her home country for a full professorship at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics in 2019. Her research focusses on the effects of global change on soil organisms and their functioning, and in particular how interactions with plants modify these responses. She is interested in global patterns as well as in disentangling small-scale mechanisms, and uses experimental and observational studies on global and regional scales, field and field-based mesocosm experiments, and pot experiments under controlled conditions. A major aim in her work is to understand the properties that determine ecosystem response to change, and using those for predicting, and managing, future ecosystem functioning. Franciska set up the special interest group Plants-Soils-Ecosystems of the British Ecological Society, and is on the editorial boards of Ecosystems and Journal of Ecology.

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