All parts of plants harbour many microscopic organisms. Especially plant leaves are an important habitat for many fungal and bacterial species that live inside or on the surface of these organs. Yet, very little is known about the diversity and distribution of these microorganisms in relation to habitat, seasonality and geographical space.
This citizen science project, led by well-recognized researchers, aims to describe the biodiversity of organisms associated with plant leaves across the globe. By using DNA-based methods for identification, scientists aim to determine the environmental features that lead to increase or loss of leaf biodiversity. Mathematical models enable to estimate total species richness of microorganisms on leaves to add one piece to the puzzle of global biodiversity.
This project seeks for volunteers who wish to contribute to understanding of complexity of life on the Earth. Participants are given simple protocols for collecting and sterilizing and posting leaf samples. The DNA of dead organisms is analysed only for identification purpose in one or more central laboratories. The results are communicated to participants over the web in each major analysis step. The principal idea of involving citizen science is to bridge frontline research and common people and to shed light on global issues among the public.