Current Challenges and Pitfalls in Soil Metagenomics

Marcio F.A. Leite, Sarah W.E.B. van den Broek, Eiko E. Kuramae* (Corresponding author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Soil microbial communities are essential components of agroecological ecosystems that influence soil fertility, nutrient turnover, and plant productivity. Metagenomics data are increasingly easy to obtain, but studies of soil metagenomics face three key challenges: (1) accounting for soil physicochemical properties; (2) incorporating untreated controls; and (3) sharing data. Accounting for soil physicochemical properties is crucial for better understanding the changes in soil microbial community composition, mechanisms, and abundance. Untreated controls provide a good baseline to measure changes in soil microbial communities and separate treatment effects from random effects. Sharing data increases reproducibility and enables meta-analyses, which are important for investigating overall effects. To overcome these challenges, we suggest establishing standard guidelines for the design of experiments for studying soil metagenomics. Addressing these challenges will promote a better understanding of soil microbial community composition and function, which we can exploit to enhance soil quality, health, and fertility.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1900
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • data-sharing guidelines
  • metagenomics
  • microbial ecology
  • soil physicochemical properties
  • untreated controls


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