Soil is essential for much of life on Earth. Microbes are ubiquitous in this environment – an estimated 108-109 microbial cells can be found in one gram of soil with a diversity ranging from a few hundred to thousands of species. Soil microbes participate in carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, and soil formation - all critical ecosystem processes, yet are poorly understood.
Image: Top five most abundant species at two sites in the BcCZO: Table Mountain and Gordon Gulch. Phylum of each species is shown on the x-axis, * indicating dominant species. Numbers differentiate among different species of the same phylum.
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Within native soils across the globe, one species of bacteria from the phylum Verrucomicrobia is usually most abundant. This dominance is also observed at two BcCZO sites – Table Mountain (terrace) and Gordon Gulch (meadow). I am studying this Verrucomicrobial species to explore both what makes it so successful across a wide range of habitats and how soils in the BcCZO and native soils around the world are affected by its presence.
Boulder, GRAD STUDENT