Syrie Hermans (MSc student)

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There is little knowledge on the bacterial communities in New Zealand soils and, more importantly, how these change in response to land use. My project will address this knowledge gap. I am using next generation sequencing to analyse the bacterial community composition in soils from the Auckland and Waikato regions. This soil has been collected from indigenous forest, plantation forests, horticultural sites, dairy farms and dry stock farms, allowing me to determine how the bacterial communities differ between these five different land uses, both in composition and functional genes present (for example genes involved in the cycling of nitrogen or antibiotic resistance). I will also be incorporating the soil characteristics (such as pH, metal content and nutrients) into my analyses to determine the impact of these edaphic factors on the bacterial communities.

This project will increase our understanding of the composition and function of bacterial communities in New Zealand soil, and how these communities are impacted by land use. Information gained through this study can be applied to the development of a tool that can monitor the health of New Zealand soil as bacteria respond to land management in a very sensitive manner, and therefore could be used as indicators of soil quality.


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