Soil Algae: How Is Their Biodiversity Influenced by Different Land Use and Vegetation? Research in the Hainich-Dün Biological Diversity Exploratorium
What Is Our Plan?Our FoLL project is integrated into an ongoing DFG research project. The students work in a team within the department, especially with doctoral student Yağmur Tarhana Çakır and technical assistant Birgit Olberg. A few samples will suffice to work on the most important objectives of the research project using various methods, thus reaching significant conclusions. The aim of the research project is a comprehensive assessment of the biodiversity of algae and cyanobacteria at species level and genotypic resolution in the upper soil layers (surface soils, 0-5 cm) and associated habitats, i.e., deadwood and tree bark. We investigate changes in the biodiversity of soil algae under different land uses, both in forests and grasslands. The goal is to identify the factors that determine the biodiversity of soil algae.
Our Vision for Project Implementation:The FoLL team will conduct a pilot excursion to selected research plots in Hainich, both in the forest and in grasslands. The research plots to be sampled represent different forms and intensities of land use. After sample collection, the samples will be processed in the laboratory using DNA methods. The obtained DNA sequences (DNA metabarcoding) will be analyzed bioinformatically, resulting in a so-called taxon table. The results will then be discussed in relation to our working hypotheses:
- The genetic diversity of soil algae and cyanobacteria is shaped by different vegetation, land use, and intensities of land use
- The algal biodiversity in surface soils is closely linked to that of algal communities on deadwood and tree bark
- Grasslands generally have a greater diversity of soil algae and cyanobacteria than forest soils
- Mechanical disturbances and fertilization have a negative impact on the phototrophic diversity of soil surfaces
The Methods We Aim to Implement
- Collecting samples from surface soils (0 – 5 cm) in forest and grassland areas (VIPs) as well as from the surfaces of wood substrates in forest areas, i.e., tree bark and deadwood
- DNA extraction from the samples and amplicon-based metabarcoding using the molecular markers 23S UPA (chloroplast-encoded) with the Illumina MiSeq platform (2×300 bp, paired-end) for eukaryotic algal lineages and cyanobacteria, as well as ITS2 (nuclear-encoded) for green algae.
- Isolating some cultures of terrestrial algae from the samples. Microscopy and DNA analyses on the obtained cultures.