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Welcome to the Firestone Laboratory!

Next time you are outside, we encourage you to look down at the soil beneath your feet. Now, imagine scooping up a small thimble-full of that soil. Did you know that in just that tiny thimble of soil there are 1 billion bacteria and 1 million fungi!? Amazing, right? We think so. Our lab studies soil microbial ecology – examining how all those microbes interact with growing plants and with each other, how they break down carbon substrates and cycle nutrients, and how they impact exchange of gases such as CO2, CH4, and N2O between the soil and the atmosphere. Our recent projects examine topics ranging from:

1. Microbial mediation of soil carbon dynamics;

2. Processes in the zone of soil around the plant root, called the rhizosphere;

3. Using a meta-omic approach to link identity with function (from metagenomes to metatranscriptomes to metaproteomes and metabolomes);

4. Digging deeper to examine microbial communities in saprolite (proto-soil);

5. And microbial mediation of nitrogen cycling, with a particular focus on the highly reactive nitrous oxide.

Recent Publications:

Nuccio, E.E., Star, E.P., Karaoz, U., Brodie, E.L., Zhou, J., Tringe, S.G., Malmstrom, R.R., Woyke, T., Banfield, J.F., Firestone, M.K. & Pett-Ridge, J. (2020). Niche differentiation is spatially and temporally regulated in the rhizosphere. The ISME Journal DOI: 10.1038/s41396-019-0582-x

Sher, Y., Baker, N.R., Herman, D.J., Fossum, C., Hale, L., Zhang, X., Nuccio, E.E., Saha M., Zhou, J., Pett-Ridge, J. & Firestone, M.K. (2020). Microbial extracellular polysaccharide production and aggregate stability controlled by Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) root biomass and soil water potential. Soil Biology & Biochemistry DOI: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2020.107742

Starr, E.P., Nuccio, E.E., Pett-Ridge, J., Banfield, J.F. & Firestone, M.K. (2019), Metatranscriptomic reconstruction reveals RNA viruses with the potential to shape carbon cycling in soil. PNAS

Starr, E.P., Shi, S., Blazewicz, S.J., Probst, A.J., Herman, D.J., Firestone, M.K. & Banfield, J.F. (2018). Stable isotope informed genome-resolved metagenomics reveals that Saccharibacteria utilize microbially-processed plant-derived carbon. Microbiome 6(1) DOI: 10.1186/s40168-018-0499-z

Please visit our PROJECTS page for more information on our current research.

Lab Location

Energy Biosciences Building, 2151 Berkeley Way, Berkeley CA 94704