PhD - Investigating the Soil Microbiome | Ontario Agricultural College

PhD - Investigating the Soil Microbiome

Position: PhD - Investigating the Soil Microbiome

Understanding soil biogeochemistry is essential to the stewardship of ecosystem services provided by soils, such as soil fertility (for food, fibre and fuel production), water quality, resistance to erosion and climate mitigation through reduced feedbacks to climate change. Microbial communities play a central role in virtually every biogeochemical cycle on earth. While soil microbial diversity and activity can be characterized using molecular tools, quantitative linkages to ecosystem function are often difficult. We need a better understanding of how extrinsic state factors or edaphic soil conditions (physical and chemical factors intrinsic to the soil) drive microbial activity and ultimately, biogeochemical cycling, in order to predict soil ecosystem responses to changes in climate, vegetation or land management.

An array of scientific approaches, including short term field studies, and long term field experiments will be used to investigate microbial drivers of biogeochemical cycling at the plant soil microbiome interface.

This research will contribute to our understanding of the ecosystem tradeoffs required to maximize productivity in agroecosystems in order to meet the demands of a global population while minimizing impacts on soil, air, and water quality.

OAC Academic Unit: School of Environmental Science

Advisor: Kari Dunfield (

Start Date: September 2022 or later

Stipend: Minimum $20,000 per year

Pre-requisites: Master of Science in a related discipline. Soil microbiology, microbial ecology, or soil scientists preferred.

Application Instructions: Please send a statement of interest, CV and unofficial transcripts to Dr. Kari Dunfield (

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