Huimin Xu

Huimin Xu

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Salinization is a global problem in soil environments, which has impacts on agricultural production, environmental health, and economic welfare, especially in arid and semi-arid areas. High salt concentrations can cause osmotic stress, and negatively impacts soil microbial activity, which plays a crucial role in soil biogeochemistry process. In arid and semi-arid regions, soil organisms are often influenced by salt stress and limited soil moisture simultaneously. Moreover, salt becomes more concentrated on account of drought, which may intensify salinity stress to levels at which previously tolerant microbes may not be able to survive. However, whether soil microbial communities exhibit co-tolerance to salinization is still lack of understanding.  Furthermore, understanding regarding the microbial responses when the salinity is linked to moisture fluctuations is still limited. Hence, I am now working with Johannes Rousk, Lettice Hicks, and Albert Brangarí focusing on the interactive effects of salinization and drought on soil microbial communities.

We hope to find out: (1) how do salt exposure and drought interact in their effects on soil microbial communities? Will soil microbial communities derived from saline soils be more tolerant to drought exposure than communities derived from non-saline soil, and, reversely, will communities derived from drought exposed soils be more tolerant to salt exposure. (2) how will soil salinity and drought interact with the microbial responses to drying-rewetting perturbations?

We will also link microbial community compositions/co-occurrence patterns to microbial functions (respiration, growth, and carbon use efficiency) to further explain the mechanisms behind these microbial responses.


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