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The role of heterotrophs in glacier surface ecosystem productivity.

My research focuses on the Earth’s coldest biome. Part of it are cryoconite holes, regarded as hotspots of microbial activity on glacier surfaces worldwide. Cryoconite is a matrix of mineral particles and biological material deposited on glaciers by wind and meltwater. Since the cryoconite material is dark coloured, it absorbs sunlight and melts down into the ice, creating a hole. I aim to assess the role of heterotrophic bacteria in supporting the productivity of these miniature ecosystems. Heterotrophs are believed to support phototrophic microorganisms by recycling nutrients from deposited organic matter. My project captures the versatility and physiological variety of microbial species on glacier surfaces and help us to quantify how glacier surface ecosystems function, and contribute to global biogeochemical cycles.

The PhD project is supervised by Dr Liz Bagshaw (Cardiff), Dr Henrik Sass (Cardiff), Prof. Martyn Tranter (Bristol) and Prof. Alex Anesio (prev. Bristol, now Denmark).

Funding source

NERC, Cardiff University, Antarctic Bursary