Name: David Fidler
Project title: Characterisingmicrobial lignocellulose degradation in soils using high-throughput in situcultivation and metagenomics
Where based: Bangor University
I undertook my BSc at Cardiff University, with year placement year at Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment. During my placement and BSc dissertation, I researched arthropod responses to climatic change using mesocosm experiments, and the whole-ecosystem EucFACE experiment. I completed my MRes at Cardiff University, where I used a metabarcoding approach to identify pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) nestling diet, to understand how phenological mismatch with their arthropod prey may affect pied flycatcher populations. These research projects gave me an introduction to, and a passion for statistical modelling and molecular ecology. I am now learning microbiological techniques at Bangor, aiming to combine field- and culture-based experiments with metagenomics, to understand how the microbial community in soil degrades plant material.
Lignocellulose is the most abundant biocomposite on Earth, making up 90% of plant material. Degradation of lignocellulose is the rate limiting step in the global carbon cycle, yet we have a poor understanding of how lignocellulose is degraded, due to the intractability of most microorganisms to culture. I will be attempting to address this knowledge gap using high-throughput in situ cultivation of soil microorganisms with subsequent mesocosm experiments, alongside genomic and metagenomic studies. Understanding the community function and dynamics of lignocellulose degraders in soil has biotechnological implications for production of biofuel, and will be critical for refining predictions of soil carbon fluxes, as dependent on soil microbial community.