ENVS 510 - Microbial Biogeochemistry and Global Change

Microbes are the drivers of planetary biogeochemistry. They produce half the oxygen on the planet, and fix half the carbon. They introduce bioavailable forms of nitrogen into the biosphere. If human life ceased to exist, the central biogeochemical cycles would continue turning. However, while the planet's biogeochemistry can persist readily in the absence of human life, that does not mean that humankind's presence lacks impact. The Anthropocene (era of human impact) has seen significant changes to planetary stocks and fluxes of C, N, S, etc. Many of these changes involve or impact microbes, and have significant impacts on biogeochemical cycles. To understand microbial biogeochemistry in today's world, one must include the context of global change. And, conversely, one cannot understand the trajectory of global change without understanding microbial feedbacks via biogeochemical cycles. In this interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate class we will cover major microbial biogeochemical cycles, and how these cycles are impacted by, and feedback to, global change. To understand the research in this area, we will discuss current methods in both microbial ecology and biogeochemistry, ranging from molecular meta-omics to the use of isotopes as biogeochemical tracers, with a particular emphasis on the challenges and opportunities of integrating these two disciplines. Lectures will be mixed with journal club-style readings and discussions, so active participation is essential. This course is designed for graduate students from diverse backgrounds and advanced undergraduates. Graduate-level requirements include (i) a twice-as-extensive background reading and synthesis component for their final presentation as the undergraduates, (ii) an active leadership role in group discussions. Class Notes: **Course Requisites: Background in biology or biogeochemistry, and openness to interdisciplinary learning.
Cross Listed ECOL - Ecology & Evolution Biology GEOS - Geosciences
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