tbg-project Miki Bálint and Clément Schneider

Molecular Biodiversity Dynamics Group

Institution: Senckenberg Society for Nature Research

TBG group members

  • Dr. Miki Bálint
  • Dr. Clément Schneider, postdoc

TBG Project Summary

Metagenomic monitoring of soil communities (MetaInvert)

There is a tremendous diversity of invertebrates right under our feet: a single m2 soil in Germany might contain up to 1000 species. Much of this diversity is unknown: it is estimated that for every known species there are about 20 that are still undescribed. All these invertebrates are important contributors of ecosystem services essential for humanity, such as disease control, nutrient cycling, soil formation, or even primary production. There are serious concerns that this diversity is rapidly lost. Since soil biodiversity loss likely impacts soil ecosystem services, there is demand from national and European authorities to understand and monitor soil biodiversity. However, extensive soil biodiversity monitoring is not yet feasible given the lack methods that might allow to describe invertebrate community composition, biomass and functions diversity on a massive scale. With the MetaInvert project we are developing the necessary genomic resources, laboratory and bioinformatic tools for a metagenomics-based monitoring of soil invertebrate communities.

Group expertise / Methods

  • environmental DNA
  • Metabarcoding
  • Soil arthropods collection
  • Collembola taxonomy
  • Morphology
  • Imagery: phase contrast and DIC high-end microscope
  • SEM
  • Phylogenetics
  • Python
  • R
  • machine learning
  • metagenomics
  • community ecology