Drought impacts on microbial assemblage structure and functional attributes
Climate change is expected to result in altered precipitation regimes including increased frequency of intense drought. The projected change is a major global problem affecting life on the planet, but may have particularly significant consequences in vulnerable, water‐limited dryland ecosystems. Soil microbes are responsible for key ecosystem functioning, such as nutrient cycling and organic matter decomposition, and are affected by these rapid climate changes. Drought reduces biogeochemical cycling by impairing biological processes and causes relative shifts in carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) dynamics which leads to unbalanced, or decoupled, nutrient cycles that can further impact ecosystems. However, the effect of altered rainfall regimes on drylands remain understudied, particularly in terms of impacts on soil microbes and nutrient cycling.
My Ph.D. research focus largely on field-based approaches combined with the application of cutting-edge analytical and molecular techniques (shotgun metagenomics and metatranscriptomics, RNA-SIP, statistical network analyses) to better understand microbial responses to drought and associated shifts in ecosystem functioning. The resulting datasets will give an in-depth understanding on community structure and functional attributes of microbial community responses linked to prolonged drought on a global scale. It will provide substantial new insight into biogeochemical cycling across environmental gradients and broaden our understanding on the impact of climate change.
A/Prof. Uffe N Nielsen, Dr Thomas Jeffries