Assessing the living soil. An ecogenomics approach to explore and unlock sustainable life-support systems.
10 / 2005 - unknown
The department participates in a national network on "Assessing the living soil: an ecogenomics approach to sustainable life-support functions", a fundamental research project supported by Bsik (ICES-KIS-3), starting in 2004. The project is co-ordinated by Biodetection Systems (prof.dr. A. Brouwer) and the Vrije Universiteit (prof.dr. N.M. van Straalen). Other participants are NIOO, WUR, BioClear, PRI, Alterra, RIVM, Microscreen and Haskoning). Applications of genomics approaches have until now been restricted mostly to problems of medical science, pharmacology and plant breeding. We believe that environmental analysis and management can also strongly benefit from genomics approaches because environmental issues are often characterized by complex ecological interactions of diverse communities of organisms with the physical and chemical components of the environment. The ecogenomics programme aims to develop new genomics-based technologies that may be used to evaluate soil quality with respect to effects of pollution, bioremediation, disease-suppression and biodiversity. Our contribution to the ecogenomics programme is focussed on soil health assessment, including soil pollution, involving (1) genomic analysis and transcription profiling using the springtail Folsomia candida, (2) development of an "invertebrate soil quality chip" (iSQ), and (3) genome-wide analysis of metal tolerance in Orchesella cincta.