The Department/Section of Microbial Ecology was established in 1972 as an independent research unit specializing in ecological aspects of microbial life and the unit was in this year physically moved from the Department of Microbiology to a newly established Department of Ecology (at that time in the Ecology Building at Helgonavägen 5) at Lund University.
Microbial ecology research in Lund was initiated by Docent Börje Norén (1919-1983) who in 1960 became the leader of a group of students and researches. The group was first located within the Department of Plant Physiology (headed by Prof. Hans Burström) and in 1967 it moved to and merged with the new Department of Microbiology (headed by Prof. Claes Weibull).
During the years 1972-75 the group, now containing about 10 people, was studying soil microorganisms and microbial control mechanisms in soil. This direction of research was still continued after Börje Norén departure in 1975 for the Swedish Agricultural University (SLU) in Uppsala where he became professor at their Department of Microbiology
In 1975 Docent Birgit Hertz (from 1987 as a Professor) became the head of the group and continued as such until her retirement in 1989. Two main research directions developed during this period: general soil microbiology (with an emphasis on fungi) and ecology of nematophagous fungi. Both directions received international recognition, and were financed by research grants that mainly came from the Swedish Natural Science Research Council (NFR) and the Agricultural Research Council (SJFR). These two research directions were complementary, and they were further linked in the late 70's when a national project on interactions in the rhizosphere was initiated. As a logical consequence studies on mycorrhiza symbiosis started in the early 80's which have gradually developed into its strong present position.
In the 1980's the research group became more independently established. An undergraduate course in Microbial Ecology was offered for the first time in 1979. A few years later (1982) Bengt Söderström received a position as Docent at the Lund University (the first university financed position in microbial ecology) and the group, now about 20 people became a separate division within the Department of Ecology (founded in 1985). Further funding was obtained from the university, and in 1987 a chaired professorship in Ecological Microbiology was allocated at the Section of Microbial Ecology and the first holder was Bengt Söderström (appointed in 1990).
The Department of Ecology in 1994 moved into a new building at Sölvegatan 37. Then the section of microbial ecology has continued a very successful research activity in the areas of microbial interactions with higher organisms (nematophagous fungi and mycorrhiza) as well as microbial activity in soils. Presently (2009) the staff consist or 3 professors, 1 lecturer, 2 assistant professors, a variable number of postdocs and about 10 PhD students.
Börje Norén started the Microbial Ecology research in the 1960's.