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The role of mesophilic crenarchaea in soil nitrification


The aim of the project is to determine the role of a recently discovered, ubiquitous and abundant group of microorganisms, the autotrophic, ammonia oxidising mesophilic crenarchaea, in a major biogeochemical cycling process, soil nitrification. Microcosm systems will be used to determine the changes in diversity and activities of both bacterial and crenarchaeal ammonia oxidiser communities, and nitrification rates, under the influence of major environmental factors, ammonia concentration and oxygen availability. Experiments will be carried out in two contrasting European soils, fertilised and unfertilised grassland soils and wetland soils, subject to different levels of oxygen availability. In addition, the distribution of ammonia oxidation potential and carbon dioxide fixation throughout the crenarchaeal kingdom will be determined. The project will employ advanced molecular techniques and the fellow will therefore receive extensive training in cutting-edge techniques used to determine the links between microbial community structure and ecosystem function. These techniques will involve cultivation-independent in situ methods for determination of changes in community structure, transcriptional activity, stable isotope probing, metagenomics and 454 pyrosequencing. Training will be organised through a personal development plan which will also include formal courses and training programmes in complementary, generic skills operated by the host institution. The fellow will also develop supervisory skills through supervision of Master project students. Training will be supplemented through transnational collaboration and through national and international collaborations in multidisciplinary projects. The project will develop the conceptual, technical and managerial skills of the fellow to place him in a position of developing and managing an independent research group addressing major scientific questions of direct relevance to European environmental science initiatives.

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King's college regent walk
AB24 3FX Aberdeen
United Kingdom

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Scotland North Eastern Scotland Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
James Prosser (Prof.)
EU contribution
No data