Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Microbial Response to Global Change

Primary Supervisor: Dr Ryan Mushinski, School of Life Sciences

Secondary supervisor: Professor Gary Bending

PhD project title: Microbial Response to Global Change

University of Registration: University of Warwick

Project outline

In some from or fashion, every lifeform on Earth has been impacted by human activity, including microorganisms. Many of these microbes are involved in global biogeochemical cycling, breaking down or converting essential elements such as carbon and nitrogen. At a point in time where humanity is at a climate tipping point, it is imperative to understand how microorganisms affect climate change (including production and consumption of climate-active gases) but also how they will be affected by climate change and other human activities.

You will develop a project that investigates the implications of global changes such as rising CO2, nitrogen deposition, invasive species, and climate change on terrestrial microbial biogeochemistry. The scope of the project is very flexible and can be shaped to fit the student’s interest.  

The student will have access to state-of-the-art facilities for conducting research on plant-soil-microbe interactions. Training during this fellowship includes a wide range of molecular techniques and analyses (microbial culturing, microscopy, DNA/RNA extraction from environmental samples, PCR, sequencing, and bioinformatics) as well as analytical chemistry (trace gas flux quantification, microbial metabolite analysis, mass spectrometry, microscopy, and building sampling microcosms). Field based experiments will be encouraged and facilitated by supervisors. 

Related Literature:

  1. Cavicchioli, R., Ripple, W.J., Timmis, K.N. et al. (2019). Scientists’ warning to humanity: microorganisms and climate change. Nat Rev Microbiol 17, 569–586. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41579-019-0222-5
  2. Zhou, Z., Wang, C. & Luo, Y. (2020). Meta-analysis of the impacts of global change factors on soil microbial diversity and functionality. Nat Commun 11, 3072. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-16881-7

BBSRC Strategic Research Priority: Understanding the Rules of Life: Microbiology

    Techniques that will be undertaken during the project:

    Training during this fellowship includes a wide range of molecular techniques and analyses (microbial culturing, DNA extraction from soil, PCR, sequencing, and bioinformatics) as well as analytical chemistry (trace gas quantification, reactive mass spectrometry, and building sampling microcosms). Field-based cultivation and management of agricultural crops will also be likely.

    Contact: Dr Ryan Mushinski, University of Warwick