Soil microbes represent the unseen majority of life on Earth and are essential for the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems as they catalyze unique and indispensable transformations in the biogeochemical cycles of the biosphere. The significance of soil biodiversity for the functioning of agricultural ecosystems is still poorly understood and soil microbial communities can be considered as a black box.
Unraveling what soil microbes are doing in this black box has been identified as one of the major research areas in science, comparable to the search for life on Mars. We investigate the significance of soil biodiversity for the functioning of agricultural ecosystems. Specific attention is given to arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, soil microbes which form symbiotic associations with most crops and which can have a big impact on plant growth and ecosystem functioning.