SOQ-32806 Biological Interactions in Soils


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. JW van Groenigen
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. JW van Groenigen
Prof. dr. ir. GB De Deyn
Examiner(s)dr. ir. JW van Groenigen

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

Ecology - I; Introductory course in Soil Science.

Continuation courses:

SOQ-36306 Biogeochemical Cycles and Climate Change Mitigation and Climate Change; SOQ-31806 Nutrient Management; SOQ-35306 The Carbon Dilemma.


Note: Due to constraints on the greenhouse and lab facilities, there is a limited number of places available. Students are therefore encouraged to register as early as possible. Students for whom this course is compulsory or restricted optional take precedence. The deadline for registration is one week earlier than usual. See Academic Year.( -> Registration for Courses.

This course deals with interactions between soil organisms and soil in the context of cycles of C, N and P. Important topics of soil fertility and global change will be addressed. Keywords: organic matter decomposition and nutrient mineralization, reactions of plants to excess and deficiency, role of plants, mycorrhizas and soil fauna in C, N and P cycles, soil structure, greenhouse gas emissions. The practical will train basic experimental techniques in soil biology and fertility, experimental design and processing of data. Part of the experiments can be designed by the students so that they complete the whole experimental cycle.

Learning outcomes:

After this course the students should be able to:
- demonstrate knowledge of the main interactions in the soil between plants, nutrients and soil biota;
- demonstrate insight in the effects of human-induced disturbances on these interactions;
- critically evaluate and discuss conflicting views in the literature on key biotic interactions in the soil;
- design, execute and report experiments that quantify interactions between biota and cycles of carbon, phosphorus and nitrogen.


- lectures:
- practicals (hypothesis formulation and testing; reporting).


- written exam (40%);
- assignment (20%);
- practical reports (40%).


Reader: Biological Interactions in Soils.

Restricted Optional for: BSWSoil, Water, AtmosphereBSc2AF
MBIBiologyMScD: Conservation and Systems Ecology2AF
MEEEarth and EnvironmentMScC: Biology and Chemistry of Soil and Water2AF
MESEnvironmental SciencesMSc2AF
MPSPlant SciencesMScC: Natural Resource Management2AF
MCLClimate StudiesMScC: Ecological and Agroecological Systems2AF