Professor of Evolutionary Biology Toby Kiers studies underground ecosystems. She discovered that fungi below the ground behave according to economic principles. They exchange nutrients with the plant roots with which they form symbioses. Biodiversity plays a crucial role in this process, but that very biodiversity is under threat. "Underground ecosystems are at risk of being destroyed. Fungi help limit global warming by sequestering carbon in their networks." More knowledge about the significance of fungi plays a significant role in achieving climate goals. Through the Society for the Protection of Underground Networks (SPUN), which Kiers founded, she encourages researchers worldwide in local communities to take samples of underground ecosystems, study them, and understand them. "I think most people understand that the food they eat comes from the ground and is responsible for their health and well-being. But they know much less about how fungi help hold that soil together and transport nutrients."
Read more about her research for which she also received the Spinoza Prize.
About the Impact Awards
The Impact Awards are part of the Amsterdam Science & Innovation Awards for the most innovative research-based idea in Amsterdam. The award ceremony is an initiative of IXA (Innovation Exchange Amsterdam), the Knowledge Transfer Office of Amsterdam UMC, Hogeschool van Amsterdam, University of Amsterdam, and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Collaboration partners include the city of Amsterdam, the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Rabobank, Arnold & Siedsma, De Vries & Metman, uniQure, MATRIX, Sanquin, AXON, Patent Business, Amsterdam Science Park, and NLC.
Read about the other Impact Award winners on the IXA website.