SLU news

SLU professor awarded with prestigious EU research grant to study the phosphorus cycle

Published: 18 March 2022
Professor Marie Spohn

One of the most prestigious research grants in Europe, the European Research Councils’ Consolidator Grant, has been awarded to Professor Marie Spohn at SLU. The generous funding of 1.94 million euros will make it possible for Marie Spohn and her team to develop a new method for studying the phosphorus cycle in terrestrial ecosystems. The results of this project will open up new possibilities for studying phosphorus dynamics and make a fundamental advance in our understanding of the phosphorus cycle in terrestrial ecosystems.

Since its establishment in 2007, the European Research Council (ERC) has funded the most promising researchers across Europe. Previously, researchers at SLU have received funding from the ERC eight times in total, no later than 2021 two projects were granted funding through the ERC's Starting Grant.

For the second time ever, a researcher at SLU has now won the prestigious Consolidator Grant. Marie Spohn, Professor in biogeochemistry of forest soils, receives approximately 2 million euros over five years through the grant. The Consolidator Grant is awarded to very promising mid-career researchers who, through pioneering research, seek answers to the most challenging questions of our time. The call is very competitive, this year 313 out of 2652 applications were successful. Out of these, 15 were granted to researchers in Sweden.

I feel honored to be awarded the ERC Consolidator Grant. It gives me the opportunity to explore a very fascinating element cycle in different terrestrial ecosystems, says Marie Spohn.

Marie Spohn has been a professor at the Department of Soil and Environment at SLU since May 2020. She is originally from Germany and, before moving to SLU, led an independent research group at the University of Bayreuth. Her research focuses on the interplay between the cycles of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in the soils.

In the ERC project PHOSCYCLE, Marie Spohn will develop a new method for studying the turnover of organic phosphorus soils. This method will make it possible to answer some long-standing questions about phosphorus cycling in terrestrial ecosystems. This is important because phosphorus is a macronutrient that limits fundamental processes, such as plant growth, in many ecosystems.

At present, the knowledge about the phosphorus cycle is limited, partly due to methodological challenges. The project PHOSCYCLE seeks to overcome these methodological challenges, and quantify recycling of phosphorus in ecosystems. The knowledge gained in PHOSCYCLE will have far-reaching implications for sustainable use of phosphorus, which is a non-renewable resource, and for maintaining soil fertility.


Caroline Grabbe, Research coordinator
Grant's Office, SLU, 090-786 8389, 072-236 5670