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Soil protistology rebooted: 30 fundamental questions to start with

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  • Stefan Geisen
  • Edward A. D. Mitchell
  • David M. Wilkinson
  • Sina Adl
  • Michael Bonkowski
  • Matthew W. Brown
  • Anna Maria Fiore-Donno
  • Thierry J. Heger
  • Vincent E.J. Jassey
  • Valentyna Krashevska
  • Daniel J.G. Lahr
  • Katarzyna Marcisz
  • Matthieu Mulot
  • David Singer
  • O. Roger Anderson
  • Dan J. Charman
  • Flemming Ekelund
  • Bryan S. Griffiths
  • Regin Rønn
  • Alexey Smirnov
  • David Bass
  • Lassaad Belbahri
  • Cedric Berney
  • Quentin Blandenier
  • Antonis Chatzinotas
  • Marianne Clarholm
  • Micah Dunthorn
  • Alan Feest
  • Leonardo D. Fernandez
  • Wilhelm Foissner
  • Bertrand Fournier
  • Eleni Gentekaki
  • Michal Hajek
  • Johannes Helder
  • Alexandre Jousset
  • Robert Koller
  • Santosh Kumar
  • Antonietta La Terza
  • Mariusz Lamentowicz
  • Yuri Mazei
  • Susana S. Santos
  • Christophe V.W. Seppey
  • Frederick W. Spiegel
  • Julia Walochnik
  • Anne Winding
  • Enrique Lara


Publication details

JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
DateAccepted/In press - 2 Apr 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 13 Apr 2017
DatePublished (current) - Aug 2017
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)94–103
Early online date13/04/17
Original languageEnglish


Protists are the most diverse eukaryotes. These microbes are keystone organisms of soil ecosystems and regulate essential processes of soil fertility such as nutrient cycling and plant growth. Despite this, protists have received little scientific attention, especially compared to bacteria, fungi and nematodes in soil studies. Recent methodological advances, particularly in molecular biology techniques, have made the study of soil protists more accessible, and have created a resurgence of interest in soil protistology. This ongoing revolution now enables comprehensive investigations of the structure and functioning of soil protist communities, paving the way to a new era in soil biology. Instead of providing an exhaustive review, we provide a synthesis of research gaps that should be prioritized in future studies of soil protistology to guide this rapidly developing research area. Based on a synthesis of expert opinion we propose 30 key questions covering a broad range of topics including evolution, phylogenetics, functional ecology, macroecology, paleoecology, and methodologies. These questions highlight a diversity of topics that will establish soil protistology as a hub discipline connecting different fundamental and applied fields such as ecology, biogeography, evolution, plant-microbe interactions, agronomy, and conservation biology. We are convinced that soil protistology has the potential to be one of the most exciting frontiers in biology.

Bibliographical note

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.

    Research areas

  • Biodiversity, Food web, Functional diversity, Microbial interactions, Protozoa, Soil protists

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