• Category Soil Microbiomes
  • Location Alaska

The overall goal of this research is to gain an understanding of plant-soil-microbe interactions in response to a changing environment.

This Alaska-based project has initially focused on a permafrost thaw gradient in the Fairbanks Permafrost Experiment Station. We set up controlled experiments to test the effects of the soil microbes on the growth of Alaskan berries. Plant growth was slowed with microbes from thawed regions relative to controls. These plant-soil feedbacks may influence how the plant community responds to changing climatic conditions (Seitz, Schuette, and Drown, 2021). We have dug deeper into the microbial community with a profile of the functional potential of the microbial community as well as an in-depth study of community structure across the thaw disturbance gradient (Seitz, Schuette, and Drown, 2022). My lab has applied this work to understanding antibiotic resistance in the environment. Identifying specific antibiotic resistant microbes is essential for quick and appropriate treatment of Alaskans. Using culture-based methods, we found widespread antibiotic resistance in local boreal forest soils affected by thawing permafrost (Haan and Drown 2021). Over the past two years, I worked with members of the US Fish & Wildlife Service and Los Alamos National Laboratory to develop a collaboration for monitoring on Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuges for microbial indicators and pathogenic vectors with implications for human and wildlife health.

  • Seitz, T. J., Schütte, U. M., & Drown, D. M. (2022). Unearthing Shifts in Microbial Communities Across a Soil Disturbance Gradient. Frontiers in Microbiology, 13, 781051.
  • Seitz, T. J., Schutte, U. M. E., & Drown, D. M. (2021). Soil Disturbance Affects Plant Productivity via Soil Microbial Community Shifts. Frontiers in Microbiology, 12, 619711.
  • Haan, T. J., & Drown, D. M. (2021). Unearthing antibiotic resistance associated with disturbance-induced permafrost thaw in interior Alaska. Microorganisms, 9(1), 116.
  • Hueffer, K., Drown, D., Romanovsky, V., & Hennessy, T. (2020). Factors contributing to anthrax outbreaks in the circumpolar north. Ecohealth, 17(1), 174-180.

Students who worked or are working this project