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

Global Change Biology paper on roots is out!

Global Change Biology paper on roots is out!

Will's paper in Global Change Biology, "Anthropogenic N deposition alters soil organic matter biochemistry and microbial communities on decaying fine roots", is now out online and can be found here. It discusses how shifts in fungal and bacterial communities on fine roots in elevated N sites are related to biochemical responses that contribute to SOM accumulation in soil. Congrats to him!
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Ecology paper online now

Ecology paper online now

Another Ecology paper for the Soils lab! Don's paper, "Anthropogenic N deposition, fungal gene expression, and an increasing soil carbon sink in the Northern Hemisphere", in Ecology is now online. It discusses how the expression of fungal class II peroxidases were down regulated under experimentally increased N deposition and how this impacts greater soil C storage in terrestrial ecosystems. This important molecular mechanism should be represented in coupled climate-biogeochemical models for future rates of atmospheric CO2 and elevated N and it's impact on global C storage. It can be found at doi.org/10.1002/ecy.2804. Congrats!
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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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