Study level

  • PhD
  • Master of Philosophy
  • Honours


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Ben Woodcroft
Senior Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Health


Permafrost thaw induced by climate change is predicted to make up to 174 Pg of near-surface carbon (less than 3m below the surface) available for microbial degradation by 2100. Despite having major implications for human health, prediction of the magnitude of carbon loss as carbon dioxide (CO2) or methane (CH4) is hampered by our limited knowledge of microbial metabolism of organic matter in these environments.

Genome-centric meta-omic analysis of microbial communities provides the necessary information to examine how specific lineages transform organic matter during permafrost thaw. Stordalen Mire in northern Sweden has been subject to a decade of intense molecular and biogeochemical study, and almost 50 years of climate and vegetation research providing a unique opportunity to examine how microbial communities are changing alongside our climate.

The overall aim of this project will be to examine how individual microbial community members and entire communities assemble, adapt and acclimatise to changing environmental conditions.

Research activities

Approaches, skills and techniques used will include:

  • metagenomic analysis techniques including genome-centric metagenomics
  • microbial genome annotation – which genes to the viruses encode and what is the taxonomic classification of the found viruses?
  • data science and visualisation – e.g. relating disease microbiome state with gas production – likely using either Python or R.
  • microbial community profiling
  • usage of various bioinformatic programs e.g. the Lorikeet tool to determine strain genotypes and abundance.


The key outcomes of the project will be to:

  • recover a strain-resolved catalogue of bacterial and archaeal genomes at Stordalen
  • develop and apply methods to relate microbial community gene expression with ecosystem evolution and function.



Contact the supervisor for more information.