Our Lab

The main focus of the research of the Soils lab is the interplay between soil microbial communities and nutrient cycling in terrestrial ecosystems. We hope to better understand the link between microbial, both fungal and bacterial, community composition and ecosystem functions, with an interest in how human activities (climate change, nitrogen deposition, etc.) affect this linkage. We combine data and information from microbial ecology, soil science and soil chemistry using methods from all these approaches to examine below-ground dynamics, and in particular as it relates to nutrient cycling.

Donald R. Zak

Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, Burton V. Barnes Collegiate Professor of Ecology

University of Michigan
School for Environment and Sustainability

News

Pedobiologia paper out

Pedobiologia paper out

A new paper is out for the Zak lab! A former EEB PhD student, Huijie Gan, has published her work on oribatid mites and how their communities are structured in Pedobiologia. The manuscript, titled "Scale dependency of dispersal limitation, environmental filtering and biotic interactions determine the diversity and composition of oribatid mite communities", can be found here. Congrats!
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ECM Conference paper out

ECM Conference paper out

In May 2018, the Zak lab (with financial support from the Beyond Carbon Neutral Seminar Series at SEAS) hosted a two-day symposium on ectomycorrhizal fungi and carbon storage, a rapidly developing research field in terrestrial ecosystem ecology. The goal for this was to gather researchers known for work on ECM and nutrient cycling together to present and discuss ideas with a potential to understand the processes that may underlie the observations of mycorrhizal-mediated plant access to nitrogen and soil carbon across ecosystems. This gathering lead to the Viewpoint article "Exploring the role of ectomycorrhizal fungi in soil carbon dynamics" in...
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Congrats to Wes!

Congrats to Wes!

Wes's paper in Ecosphere, "Root endophytes and invasiveness: no difference between native and non‐native Phragmites in the Great Lakes Region" is now out online and can be found here. Congrats to him!
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USGS Grant awarded

USGS Grant awarded

The Zak lab was recently awarded a USGS grant thru the Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (CESU). This grant, "Examining Phragmites’ microbiome for Potential Control Strategies", will aid Wes Bickford (EEB PhD student) to further understand how the microbial communities of native and non-native phragmites interact to with their hosts and how that interaction affects establishment of both types of Phragmites.
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Welcome to Danielle and Etienne!

Welcome to Danielle and Etienne!

Today we added two new members to the Zak lab, Etienne Herrick and Danielle Boshers. Etienne will be working as a research assistant on our NSF grant, and her focus will be on the lab and molecular work for ECM fungal community related to that research. Danielle comes to us through USGS, where she will be working as a research technician on the Phragmites-related research. So Welcome! to them and we all are looking forward to having you both on our team.
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Zak lab awarded NSF Ecosystems Grant!

Zak lab awarded NSF Ecosystems Grant!

The Zak lab has recently been awarded an NSF DEB grant! The grant, titled "Ectomycorrhizal Fungi and the Enzymatic Liberation of Nitrogen from Soil Organic Matter: Ecosystem Processes and Underlying Molecular Mechanisms" (link here), will be studying the ECM and C-cycling on multiple fronts. Our goal is to understand more about the interaction of ECM lineage, nutrient cycling and decomposition. Go Zak lab!!
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