Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 12h00, MSG-025 MSSI Building

The Soil Health:Human Health Nexus


Soils are the skin of the earth and the most complex biomaterial on the planet. The heart and soul of soil is the living component: the soil microbes, which directly affect soil health. Quantification of soil health has become the Holy Grail for soil scientists, and here we present a new approach to this, involving a real-time assay for community soil metabolic activity, which reflects soil health. Soil health is also inextricably linked to human health in multiple diverse ways. Soil can infect humans through geo-indigenous human microbial pathogens such as Bacillus anthracis or Coccidioides immitus. Soil can also heal humans through the use of natural soil-derived antibiotics, but excessive use of antibiotics can result in the presence of antibiotic resistant bacteria. In this seminar a fresh perspective is offered on the potential adverse human health effects of soil antibiotic resistant bacteria. Finally, soils as a critical component of nature can influence human health in a myriad of ways as evidenced by the term “metro nature.” The documented positive influences of soils and metro nature on multiple mental and physical human illnesses and disorders will be presented.


Ian Pepper is Professor of Environmental Microbiology at the University of Arizona. He is Director of the National Science Foundation Water and Environmental Technology Centre, a multi-university industry/university co-operative research centre in the US. His research interests include soil and water quality; municipal waste reuse; real-time sensors; and molecular detection of microbial pathogens. He has published over 200 peer-review journal articles and 9 textbooks. He is a Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America; the American Society of Agronomy; the American Academy of Microbiology; and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is also a Board-Certified Environmental Scientist in the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists and has been a member of six National Academy of Sciences Committees.

Tea/coffee will be available at 11h45

For further information, please contact:  Michael.h.hayes@ul.ie