HR Excellence in Science
Date: 17.06.2013

Research activities of the Institute of Soil Biology


Mission statement

The Institute of Soil Biology is concerned with theoretical and practical problems of the maintenance and regeneration of soil fertility. The research is oriented on the structure and dynamics of soil organism communities in both natural and human-affected ecosystems, interactions among soil animals, microorganisms and abiotic factors in the formation of soil microstructure, nutrient cycling, and humus formation.

General information

The Institute was established in 1986 from the Laboratory of Soil Biology, which had been a part of the former Institute of Landscape Ecology of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences since 1979. In 2006, the Institute joined the newly established Biology Centre. The staff includes 17 scientists and 25 technicians. In addition, nine doctoral and 18 masters and bachelors students participate in the Institute's research projects. Collaborating universities include the University of South Bohemia, Charles University in Prague, Masaryk University in Brno, Palacky University in Olomouc and universities based in Vienna, Budapest, Košice and Helsinki.

The Institute is involved in all the important fields of contemporary soil research, from the molecular to ecosystem levels, in order to elucidate relationships between the structure and function of the decomposer food web community and the role of soil biota in ecosystem functioning and services. The research teams focus in particular on the contribution of soil biota on soil functioning, human impacts on soil ecosystems and on the renewal of soil organism communities and soil processes in disturbed habitats. Variously managed grasslands, abandoned fields, post mining sites, caves and forests under natural and anthropogenic stresses are used as model ecosystems in long-term research. A broad interdisciplinarity approach, as seen in the close collaboration of microbiologists, zoologists and chemists, is an important facet of the Institute. The capacity to solve synecological problems at the lowest level is a special strength of Institute's contribution to soil biology research.

The Institute has contributed substantially to the development of soil biology as a distinct scientific discipline, which was incorporated into international scientific programmes such as SCOPE and IGBP, and those supported by NATO and UNESCO. The results of Institute research were important in formulating the ecotone concept, accepting the role of soil biota and their diversity in soil functioning, the development of general succession theory with soil as an integral part of ecosystem succession and the planning of international long-term global change studies. The contribution of the Institute to the taxonomy of soil fauna (especially Collembola, Protura, Diplura, Oribatida and Nematoda) is also appreciated world-wide. The Institute maintains several collections of viable microorganisms. The collection of microscopic filamentous fungi consists of more than 1000 strains of Zygomycotina, Ascomycotina and mitosporic fungi isolated from the soils, litter, caves, intestine and excrements of soil invertebrates. The collection of soil algae (Chlorophyta s.l., Xanthophyceae, Eustigmatophyceae) and cyanobacteria includes about 2500 strains isolated from the soils and aerophytic habitats of various ecosystems from diverse climatic and geographic zones. A collection of soil actinomycetes was established in 2006 with the focus on the producers of new manumycin-type compounds. All collections are used for scientific and educational purposes and are available for any collaborative research, including biotechnology use.

Research areas

  • structure and dynamics of soil organism assemblages in natural and human affected habitats and their long-term changes
  • interactions between soil animals and microorganisms and their effects on soil properties and processes
  • enzyme and metabolic activity of soil microorganisms, ecophysiology of soil invertebrates, algae and cyanobacteria
  • decomposition and mineralization of soil organic matter, soil microbial transformations of carbon, phosphorus and nitrogen in particular, including production of gaseous metabolites and their emission from soil
  • taxonomy and biology of soil microorganisms and soil animals, e.g. actinomycetes, micromycetes, algae and cyanobacteria, rotifers, nematodes, earthworms, collembolans, oribatid mites, diplopods, terrestrial isopods, centipedes, ants and diptera larvae



Biology Centre CAS
Branišovská 1160/31
370 05 České Budějovice
Data box: r84nds8


+420 387 775 111 (switchboard)
+420 387 775 051 (secretariat)
+420 778 468 552 (for media)

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