Soil Organic Matter Dynamics
Soil organic matter is a cornerstone of healthy soils. Microorganisms are the agents of decay in soil, breaking down incoming plant residues and forming soil organic matter, but they can also destabilize existing organic matter. The balance of these actions has a profound influence on soil health and fertility. We study how different plant residues and soil types influence the decomposition of plant residues to better understand fundamental and applied aspects of soil organic matter management.
The microbiome can provide plants with defenses against biotic and abiotic stresses and can enhance nutrient availability and uptake. We study how management, genotype and environment interact to affect the assembly and function of the plant microbiome, with a focus on the roots and rhizosphere.
Soil Nutrient Cycling
Microorganisms play a fundamental role in soil nutrient cycling, availability and losses. Understanding how management decisions, climate and soil factors affect microbial nutrient cycling processes can provide opportunities to improve plant nutrient use efficiency and reduce the loss of nutrients to adjacent environments where they can be harmful. We study microbial carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycling, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.