Doctor Federica Colombo


Federica ColomboGraduated PhD 2015

Thesis Title

Diversity, Functioning and Stability in Microbial Communities

Research Project

Microbial diversity and ecosystem functioning: boundaries of sustainability in a changing world

Biodiversity loss is among the major drivers of ecosystem change (Hooper et al., 2012). Understanding the consequences of loss of biodiversity on the functioning of the ecosystems is of paramount importance in order to assess the sustainability of a system. Microbes are the most abundant organisms on Earth (Curtis and Sloan, 2005) and they are responsible for many ecologically important ecosystem processes. Despite of this, the knowledge about their role in ecosystem functioning and sustainability is still incomplete.

This research aims to investigate the consequences of decline in microbial diversity on ecosystem functioning and sustainability, by applying theoretical principles developed in plant ecology. This will allow understanding whether a threshold exists in the number of species that can be lost before a collapse of ecosystem functioning.

Research Project Supervisors

Professor Brajesh Singh, Dr Jeff Powell, Dr Catriona Macdonald


Colombo F, Macdonald CA, Jeffries TC, Powell JR, Singh BK, (2016) 'Impact of forest management practices on soil bacterial diversity and consequences for soil processes', Soil Biology and Biochemistry, vol.94, pp 200-210

Velasco-Castrillon A, Schultz MB, Colombo F, Gibson JAE, Davies KA, Austin AD, Stevens MI, (2014) 'Distribution and Diversity of Soil Microfauna from East Antarctica: Assessing the Link between Biotic and Abiotic Factors', PLOS One, vol.9, no.1, article no.e87529

Accoroni S, Colombo F, Pichierri S, Romagnoli T, Marini M, Battocchi C, Penna A, Totti C, (2012) 'Ecology of Ostreopsis cf. ovata blooms in the northwestern Adriatic Sea', Cryptogamie Algologie, vol.33, no.2, pp 191–198

Accoroni S, Romagnoli T, Pichierri S, Colombo F, Totti C, (2012) 'Morphometric analysis of Ostreopsis cf. ovata cells in relation to environmental conditions and bloom phases', Harmful Algae, vol.19, pp 15-22

Accoroni S, Romagnoli T, Colombo F, Pennesi C, Di Camillo CG, Marini M, Battocchi C, Ciminiello P, Dell'Aversano C, Dello Iacovo E, Fattorusso E, Tartaglione L, Penna A, Totti C, (2011) 'Ostreopsis cf.ovata bloom in the northern Adriatic Sea during summer 2009: ecology, molecular characterization and toxin profile', Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol.62, no.11, pp 2512-2519

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