Wetlands comprise 8% of all the Earth’s terrestrial area and play a crucial role in carbon storage and greenhouse gas emission. Nitrous oxide, a powerful greenhouse gas (273 times that of CO2) and stratospheric ozone depleter, is released from changing global wetlands in vast quantities. Recent work from the members of the supervisory team suggests that a specific group of microbes, ammonia oxidising archaea, play an important role in wetland nitrous oxide emission . It is predicted that land use change and climate change, leading to drainage and warming of wetlands, will exacerbate the nitrous oxide emission from the wetlands.
The aim of this studentship is to examine the role of nitrogen cycling microorganisms, particularly ammonia oxidising archaea, in wetland nitrous oxide flux under different global warming and land use scenarios. This will reveal the microbial drivers underpinning greenhouse gas emissions and will inform land use management in the future.
This studentship will use a combination of powerful approaches, including bioinformatics, culture-based experiments, microcosm incubations and 15N isotopic tracers. This project is focused on drained and undisturbed wetlands in temperate (Estonia, UK) and tropical (Malaysia) regions. Metagenomic and comparative genomic analyses will be performed to determine the metabolic potential for nitrous oxide production in the microbiomes, and the predictions tested in pure cultures. Soil microcosms will be constructed to test how the nitrogen cycling microorganisms and processes respond to changes in moisture and temperature. 15N isotopic tracers will be used to discern the relative contributions of nitrification and denitrification to nitrous oxide emission in wetland soils.
You will receive a thorough training in advanced research skills in molecular microbial ecology (qPCR, high-throughput sequencing, bioinformatics), microbiology and analytical chemistry (GC, IR-MS). You will join the thriving cohort of PhD students at UEA, attend courses on transferable skills, and present your research in lab meetings, departmental seminars and (inter)national conferences.
This PhD is suitable for candidates with a BSc or MSc degree in Microbiology or Biological Sciences, and with a keen interest in microbiology. Willingness to travel overseas for field work is desirable.
This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Critical Decade for Climate Change programme. For more information about the programme and details of how to apply, please visit https://www.uea.ac.uk/climate/show-and-tell/leverhulme-doctoral-scholars-applicant-information.
For more information on the supervisor for this project, please visit the UEA website www.uea.ac.uk
The start date for this project is 1st October 2023.