McDaniel and Ponciano labs receive NSF grant to study moss-microbial symbiosis
Stuart and Jose-Miguel (with scientists from Northern Arizona University and University of Colorado) were awarded an NSF Dimensions of Biodiversity grant to study the effect of moss diversity on nitrogen-fixing microbes in the Alaskan arctic. McDaniel, Ponciano and their colleagues plan to use the moss-microbe interactions to understand of how biodiversity influences ecosystem function in a changing climate. Mosses and their associated microbes are critical components of nutrient cycling, meaning that changes in the moss-microbe association may alter a multitude of ecological processes. The productivity of the moss-microbe association depends in complex ways upon the genetic diversity of both the host mosses and their microbiomes. However, many aspects of these communities are poorly understood, in particular how genetic diversity influences ecosystem function, and how sensitive these communities are to environmental variation. The team plans to use genomic and stable isotope analyses combined with long term ecological experiments to test for associations between genetic variation and rates of nitrogen fixation. These data in turn will be used to model the influence of climate change on high northern latitude biodiversity and ecosystem function.