Soil Microbial Ecology Laboratory

Welcome to the Soil Microbial Ecology Laboratory in the School of Environmental Science, at the University of Guelph. Our lab is focused on using a variety of molecular techniques to characterize soil microbial community diversity and function, and to assess the impact of agriculture practices on soil microbial ecosystems.

Soil microbial communities are an integral part of healthy, sustainable agroecosystems because of their role in many important soil functions such as nutrient cycling, greenhouse gas emissions, regulating the dynamics of soil organic matter turnover, nitrogen cycling, soil carbon sequestration, soil physical structure and plant health.

The long-term objective of the Dunfield lab research program is to study the relationship between genetic diversity of soil microbial communities and soil ecosystem functioning. This research uses molecular biology techniques to assess antrhopogenic impacts on microbial communities and ecosystem functioning.

This is accomplished through a number of collaborative research programs with research groups across Canada:

Research Projects:

  1. Fate and transport of emerging contaminants after manure application (with Brandon Gilroyed)
  2. Identifying agricultural management practices that minimize the activity of microbial communities responsible for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  3. Early Researcher Award -Evaluating soil health in agroecosystems for biofuels
  4. Tier 2 Canada Research Chair -Environmental Microbiology of Agro-ecosystems
  5. Genetic characterization of petroleum-degrading microorganisms in contaminated fracture bedrock systems undergoing phytoremediation 
  6. Tracking sources of fecal contaminants in soils and groundwater
  7. Biodiversity and functioning of soil microbial communities associated with agroecosystems