Soil Biology

Last changed: 07 March 2024
hand holding funghi. close-up photo.

Fungi, bacteria and animals form complex communities in soil and interact with plant roots, organic matter and minerals. Soil organisms play an important role in agriculture and forestry and are central to the regulation of carbon and nutrient cycling in ecosystems.

A better understanding of soil biology makes it possible to better predict how ecosystems respond to environmental changes related to forestry, pollution and climate change.

Due to the challenges of studying underground organisms and processes, there are still large gaps in knowledge and a lot to discover!

Research Themes


There are large amounts of carbon in the soil that can reduce or increase the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Soil biology research is important for understanding how soil organisms and processes affect soil carbon stocks and thus the ongoing climate change. This research helps us to better predict how the climate may develop in the future and affect ecosystems.


Research also provides knowledge about how agriculture and forestry affect soil biodiversity and the soil processes that these organisms drive, such as nutrient cycling.

Our research can answer questions such as:

  • How do different soil organisms participate in the build-up and decomposition of soil organic matter?
  • How can plants drive important soil processes by living in symbiosis with other soil organisms, e.g. in mycorrhizal interactions with fungi?
  • How do climate and environmental changes affect soil organism communities and the processes they drive?

Our research ranges from molecular biology, bioinformatics and biochemistry, via microbiology and community ecology, to ecosystem ecology.

Expertise in the group

  • Biology and ecology of soil fungi, especially in forest ecosystems, and with a particular focus on mycorrhiza and soil organic matter turnover.
  • Functional ecology of northern coniferous forest ecosystems
  • Arctic soil ecology
  • Soil fauna

Research Methods

We are prominent in DNA- and RNA-based analysis of fungal communities. These relatively new methods offer unprecedented opportunities to study which species are present in the soil and, through studies of gene expression (so-called metatranscriptomics), also the properties of these species and the processes they drive in the soil.

Most of our research is field-based, as we mainly study the organisms in their natural environment.



We have several international and national research collaborations, including with Oslo University and INRA (French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment) in France.

We also collaborate actively with the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the Swedish Forest Agency and WWF. Several large forestry companies follow our work.


The research is mainly funded by Formas and the Swedish Research Council.


The Research Group in Soil Biology.


björn lindahl-rund.png

Professor Björn Lindahl
Department of Soil and Environment