Moss-associated nitrogen fixation as an important N input in terrestrial ecosystems

Main area:Ecology
Target group:Biology, Biochemistry
Educational level:Masters, Bachelor
Project description:

Mosses are important component of many ecosystem types, both in the temperate and arctic zones. Recent research in my group has shown that cyanobactaria that are losely associated with mosses contribute considerably to ecosystem N input by fixing N2 from the air. In this way, moss-associated N2 fixation may be highly important not only for N input into ecosystems, but also for carbon cycling in nutrient limited ecosystems. However, there are still many open questions which should be explored in more details. Smaller or larger projects may investigate the association in field or lab studies, and questions may be:

  • How fast is the nitrogen that is fixed by the cyanobacteria transferred to mosses, and to other ecosystem components such as vascular plants, microbes or soil?
  • How does climate change affect the performance of the association?

The association can be studied in growth chambers, laboratory experiments and in field experiments in Denmark and in the Arctic. The work may involve using stable (non-radioactive) isotopes, microscopy, nutrient analysis, gas analysis by GC, etc. Acquired knowledge will be in the fields of ecology, microbiology, ecophysiology and biogeochemistry.

Please contact Katrin Rousk

Methods used:Acetylene reduction assay and analysis on gas chromatograph (GC); microscopy
Keywords:Field or lab experiment, Moss, Cyanobacteria, Microbial ecology, Nitrogen
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Supervisor(s):  Kathrin Rousk