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In my group we study the ecology of microorganisms in natural and engineered soil systems. We are interested in the factors that influence the spatial and temporal variability in microbial communities and how the microorganisms, in turn, control biogeochemistry in soil. We are interested in assessing not only the abundance of microorganisms but rather the actively contributing ones in the opaque soil system, and we have a particular interest in comparing the roles of fungi and bacteria in their contribution to biogeochemical cycles.

Recently we have started to use the dependence of microbial growth on environmental factors (e.g. moisture, temperature, pH, salinity, etc) to determine the trait distributions of whole microbial communities in soil. This development has created a causal link between community structure and function, where we can measure the functional consequences of the alignment (or misalignment) of microbial community trait distributions to their environment. The link between microbial communities and their functional contribution has also led to several lines of inquiry where we investigate how microbial resource use-efficiencies (growth efficiencies, C-use efficiencies, N-use efficiencies) depend on environmental factors and perturbations.

Current research themes include microbial responses to soil salinisation (Dr. Kristin Rath, collaborator Prof. Noah Fierer, Univ Colorado), changes in soil pH (Dr Carla Cruz Paredes, PhD student Jian Li), drought and drying-rewetting cycles in soil (PhD student Ainara Leizeagapostdoc Dr. Lettice Hickspostdoc Dr. Albert Brangarí, collaborator Prof. Christine Hawkes, Univ Texascollaborator Prof. Richard Bardgett, Univ Manchester), soil warming (collaborator Prof. Serita FreyPhD student Daniel Tajmelpostdoc Dr. Carla Cruz Paredes), to heavy metal and antibiotic pollution (PhD student Qinmei Zhongpostdoc Dr. Carla Cruz Paredes), arctic greening (PhD student Mingyue YuanDr. Lettice Hicks), effects of insect herbivory on the soil N cycle (PhD student Jeppe Ågård Kristensen, collaborator Dr. Dan Metcalfe) and fungal and bacterial regulation of the decomposition of litter in both aquatic and soil systems (Dr. Margarida Soares) and the microbial control of the priming of organic matter decomposition (PhD student Meng NaPhD student Mingyue Yuan, PhD student Jian Li, postdoc Dr. Lettice Hicks). Recently, we have also started to integrate insights into the environmental controls of microbial processes into biogeochemical models at microcosm, Ecosystem and global scales (postdoc Dr. Albert Brangari and collaborators Dr. David WårlindDr. Paul MillerPhD student Adrian Gustafsson and Dr. Stefano Manzoni (Stockholm University).


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