Nadia Soudzilovskaia wins a prize of Von Humbold foundation for soil fungi research

Nadia (1) Nadia (1)

Ecologist Nadia Soudzilovskaia has been awarded the prestigious, international prize of Von Humboldt foundation. This German award is issued to outstanding foreign mid-career scientists that collaborate with German researchers. Soudzilovskaia was nominated by her colleagues from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv). ‘Together, we will run an exciting research programme between the iDiv and the University of Hasselt, to study beneficial interactions between plants and soil fungi, called mycorrhiza. We focus on the impact of these interactions on soil resilience, soil nutrient cycles and decomposition of organic matter.’

Mycorrhiza is a collaboration between plants and fungi

In the mycorrhizal symbiosis between fungi and plants, plants provide the fungi with carbon, while fungi in exchange provide the plants with nutrients. The interaction plays a vital role in fixing carbon in the soil and turnover of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. Hence it is important for stable and healthy ecosystems. Soudzilovskaia: ‘In my research I aim to understand the mechanisms that allow these fungi to store carbon in the soil. My colleagues and I have shown that distinct types of mycorrhizal fungi contribute to carbon storage through different mechanisms and that some work better than others. With the prize money, we will use these insights to further investigate how vegetation and fungi together control the soil carbon dynamics and enhance resilience of ecosystems now and in future climates.’