Stadt_Linz Klimafond Soil Study

Restoring degraded fluvial soils with microbial inoculants

This study explores a ‘microbe centered’ approach to the regeneration of degraded fluvial soils on the industrialized riversides of Linz. We seek to revitalize these ecosystems through the introduction of microorganisms obtained from aquaponics systems and fungal bioreactors. To evaluate the success of this approach, cutting-edge metagenomic sequencing will be employed, providing valuable insights into the microbial communities and their impact on soil regeneration.

Degraded soils suffer from diminished microbial diversity and pose significant challenges for agricultural productivity and environmental sustainability. Microorganisms play a vital role in soil ecosystems by enhancing nutrient availability, promoting plant growth, and improving overall soil structure. The microbes that we use for this study come from two distinct systems: aquaponics and fungal bioreactors:

Aquaponics systems are self-sustaining environments that combine aquaculture (fish farming) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water). These systems harbor diverse microbial communities that contribute to the health of both fish and plants. To harvest the soil-inoculant, we install filters where a rich slurry of fine particles and microbes can sediment.

Fungal bioreactors are specifically designed to produce a healthy soil microbiome from woody residues. In contrast to the product of the aquaponics system – which is dominated by bacteria – the resulting inoculant is very high in fungi.

Metagenomic Sequencing: To assess the success of the microbial inoculation technique, cutting-edge metagenomic sequencing will be utilized. Metagenomics is a powerful tool that allows researchers to analyze the DNA of entire microbial communities within a given ecosystem. By sequencing the genetic material present in the soil samples, this technique provides a comprehensive snapshot of the microbial diversity. We will analyze all samples at the onset of the study and after one year of treatment. Depending on the results, we aim to extend the study for another 2-3 years.