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Aurélien Saghaï

Aurélien Saghai
I am investigating the ecology and evolution of microbial communities involved in the cycling of nitrogen in agricultural soils.


I study archaea and bacteria involved in various N transformations (denitrification, nitrification, dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium - DNRA) in arable soils and in the rhizosphere. Understanding the ecology and evolution of these microorganisms is central to the design of agricultural practices that limit N losses and contribute to mitigate both climate change and environmental pollution. 

In my research I use a combination of field surveys and experimental studies, together with multivariate and phylogenetic tools.

I have a researcher position within the Soil Microbiology Group since March 2021.


I occasionaly teach at bachelor, master and PhD level. My lectures cover the ecology of archaea and bacteria in arable soils and in the rhizosphere, as well as an introduction to the protist world.


Ongoing research projects:

Harnessing plant traits to retain nitrogen in the rhizosphere. Swedish Research Council Formas. PI A. Saghaï (2022-2025).

Academia Network for RevIsing and Advancing the Assessment of the Soil Microbial TOxicity of Pesticides (ARISTO). MSCA – ITN – EID – H2020. (2020-2023).

Microbial controls of the fate of nitrate via DNRA or denitrification is key for managing retention of soil nitrogen. Swedish Research Council Formas. PI S. Hallin, SLU (2020-2023).

Multifunctional chemical elicitors for sustainable crop protection and improved soil fertility. Swedish Research Council Formas, PI R. Glinwood, SLU (2019-2022).

Past research projects:

Agroecosystem diversification: Digging Deeper. BiodivERsA. PIs Fernando T. Maestre (Universidad de Alicante), L. Philippot (INRAE), M. Rillig (Freie Universität Berlin), M. van der Heijden (Agroscope), S. Hallin (SLU)  (2017-2020).


PhD students

Laura J Müller (co-supervisor; 2021-)

Master students

Elin Almén (main supervisor; 2021)

Frida Lindvall (main supervisor; 2022)

Selected publications

The full list of peer-reviewed publications can be found here.

Saghaï A,  Banjeree S,  Degrune F,  Edlinger A,  García‐Palacios P,  Garland G, Heijden MGA,  Herzog H,  Maestre FT,  Pescador DS, Philippot L,  Rillig MC, Romdhane S,  Hallin, S (2022). Diversity of archaea and niche preferences among putative ammonia‐oxidizing Nitrososphaeria dominating across European arable soils. Environ Microbiol, 24: 341-356.

Saghaï A, Wittorf L, Philippot L, Hallin S (2022). Loss in soil microbial diversity constrains microbiome selection and alters the abundance of N-cycling guilds in barley rhizosphere. Applied Soil Ecology 104224.

Garland G,  Edlinger A,  Banerjee S,  Degrune F,  García-Palacios P,  Pescador DS,  Herzog C,  Romdhane S,  Saghaï A, Spor A, Wagg C, Hallin S, Maestre FT,  Philippot L,  Rillig MC,  van der Heijden MGA (2021). Crop cover is more important than rotational diversity for soil multifunctionality and cereal yields in European cropping systems. Nature Food 2:28-37.

Edlinger E, Saghaï A, Herzog C, Degrune F and Garland G (2020). Towards a multidimensional view of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in a changing world. New Phytol 228: 820-822.

Graf DRH, Saghaï A, Zhao M, Carlsson G, Jones CM and Hallin S (2019). Lucerne (Medicago sativa) alters N2O-reducing communities associated with cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata) roots and promotes N2O production in intercropping in a greenhouse experiment. Soil Biol and Biochem 137:107547.


Researcher at the Department of Forest Mycology and Plant Pathology; Markmikrobiologi
Telephone: +4618-671575
Postal address:
Skoglig mykologi och växtpatologi
Box 7026
750 07 Uppsala
Visiting address: Almas Allé 5, Uppsala