EXCALIBUR: soil biodiversity in horticulture
Soils are rich in biodiversity. The soil microbiome, comprised of bacteria, archaea, fungi and other protists, together with small invertebrates such as earthworms, is a major component of soils throughout the world.
The soil microbiome plays a central role in organic matter decomposition, nutrient and biogeochemical cycling and is also important in agricultural soil systems. The microbiome interacts with the roots of plants in ways that affect plant growth, health, and resistance to pathogens.
Adding certain microorganisms, known as bioinoculants, to agriculture systems may further enhance the positive feedback of microbes on the soil microbiome, affecting plant growth and crop production.
The Excalibur project brings together 16 partners in a major collaboration of across Europe, aiming to obtain a better understanding of underground soil biodiversity and dynamics.
New soil bioinoculants will be evaluated for the three model crops of economic importance: tomato, apple and strawberry. These will be studied under both conventional and organic horticultural management.
The Museum's role
The Museum’s research teams will bring unique expertise to the project by applying cutting-edge sequencing technologies to characterize soil biodiversity and gain a better resolution of microbe plant interactions. Our botanical collections will be used to study the history of plant diseases.
Museum researchers will also take a leading role in the evaluation of how microbes interact with soil minerals to support nutrients available for crop plants.
An important component of the project will be based on NHM’s expertise from the PREDICTS database, where researchers will develop statistical models to estimate and predict how land management and bioinoculants affect biodiversity in agricultural systems.
Project Coordinator: CREA
- Research Institute of Horticulture (INHORT)
- Centro Ricerche Produzioni Vegetali (CRPV)
- AGROINNOVA center (University of Turin)
- Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW)
- University of Copenhagen
- INOCULUMPLUS SAS (IN PLUS)
- NSF Euro Consultant (NSF EC)
- KOMPETENZZENTRUM OBSTBAU BODENSEE (KOB)
- Fördergemeinschaft Ökologischer Obstbau EV (FӦKO)
Funded by the European Union
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 817946. Our website reflects only the authors’ views and the EU is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.