Dr Clare Robinson

Senior Lecturer

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I am interested in self-funded / sponsored students for PhD projects related to soil fungal communities and their functions including:

Microbial controls on carbon loss from eroding and restored UK blanket peatland
The blanket peatlands of the UK are important terrestrial carbon stores but are uniquely eroded because of impacts of industrial pollution, overgrazing, wildfire and climate change (Evans and Warburton, 2011). Carbon is lost from eroded peatlands through physical erosion but also in dissolved and gaseous forms because of in situ microbial decomposition of organic matter in peat. Degraded peatlands can shift from carbon sinks to carbon sources. In the last decade there have been significant efforts to restore the degraded peatlands of the British uplands. Although microbial communities have been investigated in the context of restoration (Elliott et al., 2015), there has been little work on microbial function in the context of carbon loss from degraded and restored systems. This project aims to develop understanding of the links between peatland restoration, microbial communities and carbon cycling in upland peatlands.

Training will be provided in microbial community composition and activity assessed using DNA and RNA analyses (using high throughput Illumina sequencing platform) and appropriate functional gene determinations, gaseous carbon flux (direct chamber based measurements of CO2, CH4 and N2O), dissolved carbon flux and water table measurement (building on existing dipwell networks).

References
Elliott, D.R., Caporn, S.J.M., Nwaishi, F., Nilsson, R.H., Sen, R., 2015. Bacterial and fungal communities in a degraded ombrotrophic peatland undergoing natural and managed re-vegetation. PLoS ONE 10, e0124726. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0124726

Evans, M., Warburton, J., 2011. Geomorphology of Upland Peat: Erosion, Form and Landscape Change. John Wiley & Sons.