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Research

Soil microorganisms as bacteria and fungi play an important role in regulating the terrestrial carbon cycle. Microorganisms contribute to carbon sequestration by their growth and release carbon dioxide to the atmosphere via respiration. One of the strongest factors controlling microbial activity is moisture, and drought and rainfall events induce large carbon fluxes from the soil to the atmosphere. Hence, it is critical to understand the microbial responses underpinning this climate feedback.

The main interest of my PhD is to understand how soil microbial communities and their processes are affectedby drying and rewetting events. Together with my supervisor Johannes Rousk and my co-supervisors Albert Brangarí and Lettice Hicks I am working with several projects to resolve the interaction between drying-rewetting and different environmental factors. Current projects include the effect on microbial growth and respiration during drying-rewetting to (1) disturbed soil structure across a Swedish precipitation gradient, (2) the combination of soil properties and climate history in soils across Europe, and (3) the influence of different levels of plant diversity. In addition, I want to understand how and if microbial resistance and resilience change depedning on environmental conditions and the consequences this migh have for future carbon cycling. My research will increase our understanding of how drying and rewetting affect terrestrial carbon cycling and improve ecosystem models to predict climatic scenarios.

To achieve this, I will study microbial growth and respiration responses to drying and rewetting cycles both in field experiments and laboratory microcosms experiments. Methods to quantify microbial dynamics at high temporal resolution include radioactive isotopes to measure bacterial and fungal growth rates along with gas chromatography and CO2 fluxes to measure respiration rates.

UKÄ subject classification

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology

Keywords

  • microbial ecology
  • climate change
  • drought
  • precipitation
  • soil

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