From Rutgers University (US) : “Distinguished Professor Max Häggblom Leads $1.5 Million NSF Study on Microbiomes of Polar and Alpine Soils”

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From Rutgers University (US)

December 9, 2021

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Max Häggblom, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology at Rutgers, sampling for soil microbes in the Malla Nature Reserve located at Kilpisjärvi in northwestern Lapland Finland, one of the project study sites.

Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Max Häggblom, is principal investigator of a collaborative, multinational project, Dimensions US-China-South Africa: Establishing genetic, phylogenetic and functional mechanisms that shape the diversity of polar and alpine soil microbiomes funded by The National Science Foundation (US). Rutgers co-principal investigators are Lee Kerkhof, professor in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, and Malin Pinsky, professor of in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources.

The international research team—Rutgers University, The University of Delaware (US), The Chinese Academy of Sciences [中国科学院](CN) Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, The University of Pretoria (SA)—will focus on the microbial ecology of soil ecosystems in the Arctic, Antarctic and Tibetan Plateau.

By studying polar and alpine soils, researchers are seeking to identify the mechanisms that lead to diverse soil microbial communities, hallmarks of stable and sustainable soils.

“The ‘tri-polar’ region was chosen as high latitude and altitude soils are disproportionately impacted by climate change and predicted to show increased microbial activity and enhanced turnover of soil organic matter in the future. Significant warming of these soils is expected to drive increased microbial activity and enhanced greenhouse gas release,” said Häggblom.

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Collaborator Minna Männistö, Natural Resources Institute Finland, sampling for soil microbes under two meters of snow in winter.

Microorganisms are the foundations of ecosystems and drive the biology and chemistry in soils, including the conversion of soil organic matter into the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane, as well as nitrogen and phosphorous compounds that can be used by plants.

“Understanding the ecology of these microorganisms is a compelling scientific challenge, particularly for soil microbiomes that govern nutrient cycling and decomposition,” he explained.

The combinations and interactions of forces that govern the assembly, dynamics and activity of soil microbiomes are poorly understood—particularly for polar and alpine soils that are on the frontline of climate change.

“Having a clear understanding of how soil ecosystems respond in these polar regions is critical for evaluating the controls of biogeochemical cycling and clarifying microbial feedbacks in a changing world,” he added.

Researchers will link laboratory- and field-based approaches to describe the genetic, phylogenetic and functional diversity of Acidobacteria, one of the most ubiquitous but elusive bacterial phyla found in terrestrial ecosystems around the globe. The research will be coupled to educational activities by integrating samples and data into hands-on classroom training at the K-12, undergraduate and graduate levels.

See the full article here .


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Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (US), is a leading national research university and the state’s preeminent, comprehensive public institution of higher education. Rutgers is dedicated to teaching that meets the highest standards of excellence; to conducting research that breaks new ground; and to providing services, solutions, and clinical care that help individuals and the local, national, and global communities where they live.

Founded in 1766, Rutgers teaches across the full educational spectrum: preschool to precollege; undergraduate to graduate; postdoctoral fellowships to residencies; and continuing education for professional and personal advancement.

Rutgers University (US) is a public land-grant research university based in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Chartered in 1766, Rutgers was originally called Queen’s College, and today it is the eighth-oldest college in the United States, the second-oldest in New Jersey (after Princeton University (US)), and one of the nine U.S. colonial colleges that were chartered before the American War of Independence. In 1825, Queen’s College was renamed Rutgers College in honor of Colonel Henry Rutgers, whose substantial gift to the school had stabilized its finances during a period of uncertainty. For most of its existence, Rutgers was a private liberal arts college but it has evolved into a coeducational public research university after being designated The State University of New Jersey by the New Jersey Legislature via laws enacted in 1945 and 1956.

Rutgers today has three distinct campuses, located in New Brunswick (including grounds in adjacent Piscataway), Newark, and Camden. The university has additional facilities elsewhere in the state, including oceanographic research facilities at the New Jersey shore. Rutgers is also a land-grant university, a sea-grant university, and the largest university in the state. Instruction is offered by 9,000 faculty members in 175 academic departments to over 45,000 undergraduate students and more than 20,000 graduate and professional students. The university is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and is a member of the Big Ten Academic Alliance, the Association of American Universities (US) and the Universities Research Association (US). Over the years, Rutgers has been considered a Public Ivy.

Research

Rutgers is home to the Rutgers University Center for Cognitive Science, also known as RUCCS. This research center hosts researchers in psychology, linguistics, computer science, philosophy, electrical engineering, and anthropology.

It was at Rutgers that Selman Waksman (1888–1973) discovered several antibiotics, including actinomycin, clavacin, streptothricin, grisein, neomycin, fradicin, candicidin, candidin, and others. Waksman, along with graduate student Albert Schatz (1920–2005), discovered streptomycin—a versatile antibiotic that was to be the first applied to cure tuberculosis. For this discovery, Waksman received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1952.

Rutgers developed water-soluble sustained release polymers, tetraploids, robotic hands, artificial bovine insemination, and the ceramic tiles for the heat shield on the Space Shuttle. In health related field, Rutgers has the Environmental & Occupational Health Science Institute (EOHSI).

Rutgers is also home to the RCSB Protein Data bank, “…an information portal to Biological Macromolecular Structures’ cohosted with the San Diego Supercomputer Center (US). This database is the authoritative research tool for bioinformaticists using protein primary, secondary and tertiary structures worldwide….”

Rutgers is home to the Rutgers Cooperative Research & Extension office, which is run by the Agricultural and Experiment Station with the support of local government. The institution provides research & education to the local farming and agro industrial community in 19 of the 21 counties of the state and educational outreach programs offered through the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Office of Continuing Professional Education.

Rutgers University Cell and DNA Repository (RUCDR) is the largest university based repository in the world and has received awards worth more than $57.8 million from the National Institutes of Health (US). One will fund genetic studies of mental disorders and the other will support investigations into the causes of digestive, liver and kidney diseases, and diabetes. RUCDR activities will enable gene discovery leading to diagnoses, treatments and, eventually, cures for these diseases. RUCDR assists researchers throughout the world by providing the highest quality biomaterials, technical consultation, and logistical support.

Rutgers–Camden is home to the nation’s PhD granting Department of Childhood Studies. This department, in conjunction with the Center for Children and Childhood Studies, also on the Camden campus, conducts interdisciplinary research which combines methodologies and research practices of sociology, psychology, literature, anthropology and other disciplines into the study of childhoods internationally.

Rutgers is home to several National Science Foundation (US) IGERT fellowships that support interdisciplinary scientific research at the graduate-level. Highly selective fellowships are available in the following areas: Perceptual Science, Stem Cell Science and Engineering, Nanotechnology for Clean Energy, Renewable and Sustainable Fuels Solutions, and Nanopharmaceutical Engineering.

Rutgers also maintains the Office of Research Alliances that focuses on working with companies to increase engagement with the university’s faculty members, staff and extensive resources on the four campuses.

As a ’67 graduate of University College, second in my class, I am proud to be a member of

Alpha Sigma Lamda, National Honor Society of non-tradional students.