Microbes, (bacteria, archaea, fungi) are key functional groups in ecosystems, acting as a drivers of major transitions in nutrient cycles. Thorunn’s research focuses on variation in biodiversity, distribution and function of key microbial groups in field based systems. Recent advances in next generation sequencing technologies allow the microbiome of field systems to be studied in detail, and current research projects use these technologies to understand nutrient cycling in agriculture and epidemiology in honeybees.
A major research area in Thorunn’s group is the Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF). These symbionts are key conduits of mineral nutrients between plants and soils, and variation in AMF communities has the potential to affect large scale ecosystem function. Her research focuses on determining what controls AM biodiversity, including host plant effects, water and oxygen availability, and soil environment, and how these factors affect fungal fitness and evolution. She and her team studies this using manipulative field experiments, molecular and bioinformatic approaches.
Phone: 01904 328614