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Above-belowground interactions

Research Group

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We study how plants, microbes and insects interact and focus on soil dwelling and aboveground organisms that are associated to particular plants or trees. We examine how individual organisms interact and how aboveground and belowground communities are linked. A central aim of our work is to steer plant communities and plant-insect interactions via the soil microbiome. We study these above-belowground interactions under controlled conditions in growth chambers and greenhouses, and outdoors in  field experiments and in natural and agricultural systems.

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Research Projects

Our Current Focus


Silva Nova

Restoring soil biology and soil functions to gain multiple benefits in new forests

We study how inoculation of former arable land with soil (including the microbiome, soil fauna and seeds / rhizomes of ground flora) from old forests along with planting targeted tree species mixtures will improve productivity and more rapidly restore forest-adapted communities and ultimately result in diverse, stable and resilient multifunctional forests.

Jacobaea vulgaris interactions

Using plant-insect-microbe interactions to strengthen biological control of the highly invasive weed Jacobaea vulgaris

We compare aboveground and belowground communities associated to the plant ragwort (Jacobaea vulgaris) and study how the diversity of the plant community affects these multitrophic communities, and the behaviour of individuals in these communities. We aim to disentangle the importance of host plant quality and of characteristics of the surrounding plant community for aboveground and belowground interactions.


Field Experiments

Using soil inoculations for ecosystem restoration

We examine how plants influence the soil they grow in, and how these changes influence other plants that grow later in the soil, and the insects on those plants.

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Contact us

Sylviusweg 72, 2333 BE
2333 BE Leiden, Netherlands

071 527 5000

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