PHD Project

October 12, 2022

Predicting soil microbial responses to environmental change

Predicting change in the soil microbiome

DNA sequencing has revolutionised our understanding of soil microbial biodiversity, uncovering the ecology of thousands of novel taxa and providing new opportunities for innovation within areas such as biomonitoring, forecasting, and sustainable agriculture. To harness these growing datastreams for applications operable at realistic landscape scales, there is an urgent need for predictive modelling linking environmental drivers to discrete microbial taxa and associated functions. This studentship will couple soil geospatial and process models to functionally-linked microbial niche models across Britain, and test utility by imposing climate change scenarios to provide national-scale quantification of the impacts of climate change and land use on soil microbial biodiversity and functionality. There will be wider opportunities to test model predictions using either data driven or lab based approaches.

The studentship will be based at UKCEH Bangor, supervised by Rob Griffiths but with opportunities for placements with the co-supervisors Jessica Davies (Lancaster University), Davey Jones (Bangor University) and Chris Quince (Earlham Institute partner) providing diverse training linking soil metagenomics with ecological and biogeochemical modelling. Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in a relevant scientific discipline (microbiology, genetics, biochemistry, soil science, geography, computer science), and be able to demonstrate experience of quantitative analyses and programming within a relevant language. A key component to the research will be working at the interface of biology, soils, geography and data science so a willingness to work across disciplines is essential, but relevant training will be provided by the supervisors across all areas.

Please get in touch with Rob Griffiths at