Welcome to the website of the Soil and Environmental Research group. We're interested in exploring and understanding the amazing microbial world around us!! Microorganisms were the first life forms; they existed billions of years before all other organisms. In fact, our planet was solely a microbial one for most of its life-bearing history. Microbes have used this time well! They have adapted to almost every environment in our world, even the most inhospitable of niches. Their extraordinary diversity and phenomenal metabolic capacity enables them to carry out key processes essential for the functioning of the planet and the maintenance of life. Several of these vital processes are carried out exclusively by microbes.
We study these organisms in their natural environments with the aim of understanding what communities of organisms are present, what they are doing, and how their occurrence and activity is impacted by interactions with each other and their environment. We’re particularly interested in investigating soil microbes. Soils deliver a range of critical ecosystem functions (including food production, nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, water purification, climate regulation, fibre and fuel provision), and most of these functions are underpinned by microbes. Soil is a dynamic and heterogeneous system with a large number of ecological niches. Indeed, it is the most microbially complex matrix on the planet, supporting more than one quarter of all living organisms. We’re interested in studying soil microbes in agricultural systems to enable us to contribute towards meeting the global challenges of food security and climate change, and ultimately marrying environmental and agronomic sustainability.