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Microbial Ecology at ECU

Humans have manipulated ecosystems to keep pace with demands for clean water, food, fiber and fuel. Land use history can have lasting impacts on contemporary ecosystems, especially on microorganisms involved in regulating ecosystem services. Research in the Peralta Lab seeks to understand how land use change influences microbial community structure and function. Land use history can positively or negatively influence ecosystem services, and the strength and outcome of these legacy effects may be variable due to the persistence of microorganisms from previous land use. Our ability to manage microbial functions is especially important for enhancing water quality, nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, biodiversity, and crop production. We use a combination of molecular- and culture-based approaches to characterize microbial communities. In addition, we use a combination of field- and lab-based methods to assess microbially mediated functions (e.g., soil-borne disease suppression, nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, plant growth promotion).

Research in the Peralta Lab explores the following questions:

(1) How does past land use impact contemporary microbial community composition and function?

(2) How can current management practices enhance microbial ecosystem services?

(3) What are social-ecological barriers to managing microbial ecosystem services?

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