Nicola Linton, MSc, PhD Candidate
Research focus: Soil bacterial communities and activity under simple and complex crop rotations, impact on nitrogen cycling and microbial diversity
Soil microorganisms carry out many functions within the below ground environment. They are involved in organic residue decomposition, impact the stores of carbon and perform steps to convert nitrogen between organic and inorganic forms. Microbial communities cycle soil nutrients and can contribute to nitrogen availability for crops but also to nitrogen fertilizer losses, such as through formation of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. Crop diversity is considered to promote more healthy soil and contributes to more resilient soils able to withstand climate change. I am interested in how long term crop diversity has impacted the diversity of the soil bacterial and fungal community and whether there has been as shift in numbers or activity of key nitrogen cycling groups.
My background includes a previous specialization in human systems physiology (BSc), which led to an interest in immunology and reproduction (MSc.). The world of bacteria captured my interest during my time working as a scientist, identifying a wide range of microbes for industry clients. My laboratory skills primarily focus on molecular biology techniques, using genes to understand the identity of microbes as well as their presence/absence or community size.
When not investigating the vast array of microbes that inhabit soils I can be found wrestling with statistical analysis of data, eating a healthy diet of cookies to support my research work, and training for triathlon to take advantage of the pool, biking and running facilities that the Guelph area has to offer.