Soil networks become more connected and take up more carbon as nature restoration progresses

W.E. Morriën*, S.E. Hannula, L.B. Snoek, N.R. Helmsing, Hans Zweers, M. de Hollander, Raquel Luján Soto, Marie Lara Bouffaud, M. Buée, W.J. Dimmers, Henk Duyts, Stefan Geisen, Mariangela Girlanda, R.I. Griffiths, H.B. Jorgensen, J. Jensen, P. Plassart, Dirk Redecker, R.M. Schmelz, Olaf SchmidtBruce C. Thomson, Emilie Tisserant, Stephane Uroz, Anne Winding, M.J. Bailey, M. Bonkowski, J.H. Faber, F. Martin, Philippe Lemanceau, W. de Boer, J.A. van Veen, W.H. van der Putten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

552 Citations (Scopus)


Soil organisms have an important role in aboveground community dynamics and ecosystem functioning in terrestrial ecosystems. However, most studies have considered soil biota as a black box or focussed on specific groups, whereas little is known about entire soil networks. Here we show that during the course of nature restoration on abandoned arable land a compositional shift in soil biota, preceded by tightening of the belowground networks, corresponds with enhanced efficiency of carbon uptake. In mid- and long-term abandoned field soil, carbon uptake by fungi increases without an increase in fungal biomass or shift in bacterial-to-fungal ratio. The implication of our findings is that during nature restoration the efficiency of nutrient cycling and carbon uptake can increase by a shift in fungal composition and/or fungal activity. Therefore, we propose that relationships between soil food web structure and carbon cycling in soils need to be reconsidered.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14349
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2017


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