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Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Featured PhD Programmes
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The role of plant-microbe-mineral interactions in soil carbon sequestration and storage

Faculty of Biological Sciences

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Prof Katie Field , Prof Caroline Peacock , Prof Pippa Chapman , Prof Joseph Holden No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Loss of soil organic carbon (SOC) is one of the most pressing challenges of the 21st Century, contributing to climate change, reducing soil fertility and capability for growing crops, reducing water holding capacity and increasing erosion which increases flood risk. An essential part of tackling the ongoing climate crisis and associated global challenges is to halt and reverse the loss of SOC.

Plants are crucial in the movement and storage of SOC, however new evidence suggests soil microorganisms contribute up to 80% of stored SOC. Plant-C metabolism by soil microorganisms is one of the main routes to C capture, but the physiological mechanisms and role of interactions with minerals and aggregates underpinning this remain unknown.

This exciting project will contribute towards international initiatives to reverse global SOC losses by investigating metabolism of organic-C by microbes and fungi, and interactions with soil minerals to unpick the biological mechanisms underpinning soil carbon sequestration and storage.

The successful student will undertake novel field and laboratory work using the latest ‘omics technologies, isotope tracing and complementary geochemical tools. In doing so, the student will build key skills while also pushing the boundaries of science to understand the role of soil organisms in carbon capture.

Funding Notes

Project is eligible for funding under the Gosden PhD Studentship scheme. The successful candidate will receive a PhD studentship for 4 years, covering fees at UK/EU level and stipend at research council level (£15,009).

Candidates should have/be expecting a 2.1 or above at undergraduate level in a relevant area. If English is not your first language, you will be required to meet our language entry requirements. The PhD is to start in Oct 2020.

Please apply online ( and include project title and supervisor name, and upload a CV and transcripts.
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