Cryospheric environments present hostile conditions for life, yet they are inhabited by active and diverse extremophilic microorganisms. Crucially, ecosystems in terrestrial cryospheric environments are particularly sensitive to climate change and anthropogenic stressors that impact native microbial species, which have cascading downstream effects on entire ecosystems. This fragility is unbalanced as permafrost thaw releases organic carbon stores which fuel microbial respiration, thus contributing to further greenhouse gas emissions, in a positive feedback loop of climate warming.
At the Microbiome Adaptation to the Changing Environment (MACE) laboratory, we aim to understand how microbial communities adapt and thrive in cryospheric environments. We aim to answer fundamental question in microbiome science by integrating field studies, laboratory experiments, multi-omics techniques, and modeling. Our research emphasises population level responses of microbial communities and the individual molecular adaptation strategies of cryophilic microorganisms in the changing environment, which we believe is key in predicting and mitigating further disruptions to cryospheric terrestrial ecosystems.