The specific aims of the proposed project is to understand the relationship between microbial community structure and plant diversity across large spatial and elevational gradients in the Swiss Alps in order to predict community migration patterns as a function of climate change.
The 3 objectives covered by the project will be:
- to characterize the soil community compos ition of the archaeal, bacterial, and fungal groups in 200 locations across the Western Swiss Alps;
- to determine the relationship between the microbial communities and aboveground plant communities at each of the 200 locations; and
- to examine the microbial and plant communities across sites and at the landscape scale to determine the effect of climate change on biodiversity and migration patterns.
Migration patterns will be assessed using multivariate analytical tools. Variables will include: microbial and plant species composition at each site, chemical and physical properties of each soil sample, landscape topography, elevational gradients, and migration patterns across multiple years. The proposed project will use a state-of-the-art ultra high-throughput sequencing approach using Titanium 454 pyrosequencing, alongside a coarser fingerprinting method and will involve multi-disciplinary work from areas of microbiology, fungal biology, plant biology, microbial ecology, macro-ecology, bioinformatics, and statistics.
The goal is the provide data to help policy makers, alpine industry and businesses, and high-elevation agriculture, to maintain or improve sustainability and livelihood in the face of climate change. The proposed research project will bring to Europe a female Experienced Researcher from Europe’s main research competitor, the United States, with advanced cross-disciplinary training and research experience. Her goal is to bring her knowledge and experience to Europe and share them through mentorship, research, and teaching, to improve European research excellence and competitiveness.