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Image by thomas heintz


Searching for the ideal soil for optimal tulip growth

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The tulip was chosen for this citizen science project because the Netherlands, and Leiden in particular, is world famous for its long history as the center of the tulip industry. The tulip is a Dutch icon! With Tulip Mania Leiden the aim is to unleash a new tulip craze and to put the spotlight on the importance of the biodiversity in the soil on the growth and flowering of the tulip. More and more people are actively participating in studies into biodiversity, such as with various counting days of birds, butterflies and bees, among other things. It is less well known that all these counts are largely influenced by the biodiversity present in the soil. If we want to stimulate biodiversity and limit the use of chemical pesticides, how do we solve plant diseases?

Through new knowledge of life in the soil, so biological solutions can be devised and applied. The microorganisms in the soil can be mapped with a single test, metagenomics. Residents of Leiden are asked to buy ten specially selected organic tulip bulbs, the Tulipa Masterpeace, and plant them in their garden and planters. One in 25 bags of tulip bulbs contain 9 instead of 10 red tulips, and one bulb with a different tulip color. The person who sees this anomalous tulip grow is the lucky winner and can have the biodiversity of the soil analyzed using metagenomics.

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