Microbial carbon-use efficiency
We are developing growth-based techniques to assess the ecology of fungi and bacteria, focusing on their contribution to carbon (C) cycling, and synthesize this into an understanding of growth efficiencies of soil microorganisms. This work will be pursued in four stages:
- We will establish conversion factors for the growth methods to enable measurements in units C.
- Using 14C tracers the components of soil C that contribute to respiration will be investigated, and C respired will be contrasted to that used for growth, obtaining estimates of growth efficiencies.
- Using long-term field experiments through international collaborations, we will investigate the influence of several factors (pH, N, temperature, agricultural regimes including biochar and novel fertiliser treatments, etc) on the ecology of fungi and bacteria, their contribution to C cycling, and their growth efficiencies.
- The dynamics in fungal and bacterial growth, C use, and growth efficiency will be compared with their community composition, to investigate how structure can affect the functioning the decomposers provide.
The methodological and conceptual core of this research, on the growth of soil microorganisms and the functional relevance of them for ecosystem services, is complementary to many of ongoing efforts at Lund University, not least the BECC and LUCCI networks. We will pursue cross-disciplinary and collaborative research efforts in this milieu, where the growth of the soil microbial community and their contribution to the C cycle can be integrated into many of these research frontiers, including e.g. C and N modelling work.