Doctor Patricia Gilarte Padilla


Graduate PhD 2021

Thesis Title

Role of soil fauna in nitrogen cycling and plant succession in Eastern Australia natural plant communities

PhD Project

Patricia Gilarte PadillaIn my PhD "Role of Soil Fauna in Nitrogen Cycling and Plant Succession" we are investigating how different functional groups of soil fauna influence the competition between nitrogen fixing and non-nitrogen fixing plant across different successional stages in a chronosequence. In my first year, I am analysing soil and nematode samples associated to different plants, and will use this information to design controlled experiments during my second and third years. We are all very excited and had an amazing sampling campaign. We were so lucky as to obtain a scientific use permit to sample at the Great Sandy National Park, a protected area with the tallest sand dunes on the planet! It was a wonderful experience to get to see these tropical forests and soils. Results are looking good, and we are looking forward to obtain some even more interesting results.

Part of my project success depends on the reliability of nematodes, a wonderful model system I will be using as a surrogate for soil fauna effects. Nematodes or round worms are ubiquitous, small, aquatic creatures that inhabit all of Earth's ecosystems, from the thin layer of water in soils, to rivers, lakes and oceans, including extreme environments or highly specialized parasites of animals and plants. As part of my project, I have successfully isolated in lab cultures different trophic groups of nematodes that are most involved with nitrogen cycling and plants rhizosphere, namely, root feeders and bacterial feeders.

Research Interests

My research interests include nematodes as a model organism and bio-monitoring tool, soil mesofauna taxonomy and diversity, the diversity-functionality debate, aboveground belowground linkages and multitrophic interactions with a focus on the soil food web.


Gilarte P, Pendall E, Carrillo Y, Nielsen UN, (2021) 'Plant functional identity has predictable effects on nematode communities across successional stages', Soil Biology and Biochemistry, vol.162, Article no.108406

Gilarte P, Plett J, Pendall E, Carrillo Y, Nielsen UN, (2020) 'Direct and indirect trophic interactions of soil nematodes impact chickpea and oat nutrition', Plant and Soil, vol.457, pp 255–268


A/Professor Uffe Nielsen, Dr Yolima Carrillo, Professor Elise Pendall