How do restoration projects affect soil microbial communities? What are the functional implications for the soil? How can we use microbial community data to improve land management?
Indicator species analysis
- Which microbes “drive” the community ordination?
- Which microbes can indicate biotic and abiotic factors of interest?
- Methods of De Caceres and Legendre (2009) implemented in indicspecies package for R
Practicalities of using microbial indicators
- Community sequencing affordable, getting cheaper. Using the community as an indicator of multiple factors is a real possibility
- Pre-identified indicators can be detected by cheaper means. e.g. real-time PCR, microarray
- Microbial indicators not established but easy to find candidates
Possible Applications of microbial indicators
- Pollution e.g. heavy metals, N
- Invasive / non-native species
- Assess ecological process potential
- Nitrogen fixation
- Carbon fixation
- Degradation risk warning
- Restoration success indicator
- Identify suitable sites for plant/sphagnum introduction
- Monitoring areas with little macroscopic life / diversity
- Land management practice clearly evidenced in soil microbiome
- Functional implications poorly understood but can be deduced by range of methods
- Great potential for using microbes as ecological indicators