Soil is vital for the production of food, the maintenance of environmental quality and ecosystem health. Soil is alive, and soil microorganisms (collectively called soil microbiome) are the driving force of elemental biogeochemical cycling and the bridge linking above- and below-ground ecosystem processes. Due to the limitations of conventional microbial research techniques, the majority of soil biological functions remain poorly understood and therefore untapped, rendering current research largely descriptive. However, in the last few years, new technologies, such as molecular biological approaches, bioinformatics data mining and in situ imaging, have fundamentally changed views concerning the soil microbiome. The exploration of soil microbial diversity and its functions has become one of the frontiers of interdisciplinary science. The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) thus initiated a strategic priority research program termed China Soil Microbiome Initiative (CSMI) in July of 2014. It includes the following four projects:
It is expected that the CSMI will bring significant breakthroughs in characterizing soil microbial systems and their functions in diverse Chinese soils, and will lay solid foundations for the exploration of the key roles of soil microbiome in ensuring food security and environmental quality. It is also envisaged that the implementation of the program will train new talents in soil biology research, will gain international recognition to facilitate closer collaborations.
This presentation will report the framework of the CSMI and its current progress.