Methods for studying bacterial–fungal interactions in the microenvironments of soil

Edoardo Mandolini, Maraike Probst, Ursula Peintner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Due to their small size, microorganisms directly experience only a tiny portion of the environmental heterogeneity manifested in the soil. The microscale variations in soil properties constrain the distribution of fungi and bacteria, and the extent to which they can interact with each other, thereby directly influencing their behavior and ecological roles. Thus, to obtain a realistic understanding of bacterial–fungal interactions, the spatiotemporal complexity of their microenvironments must be accounted for. The objective of this review is to further raise awareness of this important aspect and to discuss an overview of possible methodologies, some of easier applicability than others, that can be implemented in the experimental design in this field of research. The experimental design can be rationalized in three different scales, namely reconstructing the physicochemical complexity of the soil matrix, identifying and locating fungi and bacteria to depict their physical interactions, and, lastly, analyzing their molecular environment to describe their activity. In the long term, only relevant experimental data at the cell-to-cell level can provide the base for any solid theory or model that may serve for accurate functional prediction at the ecosystem level. The way to this level of application is still long, but we should all start small.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9182
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number19
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Cultivation
  • Distribution
  • Heterogeneity
  • Isotope probing
  • Microbial communication
  • Microfluidics
  • NanoSIMS
  • Soil microbiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Instrumentation
  • General Engineering
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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