Sikes Microbial Lab
Microbes in Action!
Crust community resilience
Fire Fungal Feedbacks
Microbes in Human-Altered Landscapes
Research in our lab focuses on integrating microbial ecology into broader ecological theory and using it as a foundation for ecosystem management.
We are based in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Kansas as well as the Kansas Biological Survey.
New Microbial Cultures
Soil Microbe-Plant Interactions
Fungal community resistance and resilience
Open Graduate Student positions
Our lab has graduate student positions for fall of 2023. We have two different general projects for which students can tailor their own projects. The first explores resilience of extremophile soil communities to space-like stresses. This work is geared towards new collaborations with NASA. The second explores how soil microbiomes impact plant root traits and is part the New Roots for Restoration Biology Integration Institute. If you (or someone you know) are interested please email Ben directly (ben.sikes[at]ku.edu)
Pyrophilic plants respond to fire-altered soils
Dr. Jacob Hopkins (former Sikes Lab PhD) had his recent paper accepted at American Naturalist. The paper continues our exploration of fire, plants, and soil biotic feedbacks in pine savannas. In this work, Jacob explored how pyrophilic plants respond to differential effects of fire severity on soil abiotic and biotic properties. Lots of interesting finding,s, including differences in life forms and preferences for soils from particular fire severities. This variation is likely to help maintain the high diversity of pine savannas, particularly among the pyrodiversity on the landscape.
Extremophile Soil Crust Sampling Complete!
With excellent teams in the Mojave National Preserve and Colorado High Rockies, we were able to sample soil crusts from across some extreme environments. Monsoonal rains had washed out roads in the Mojave and rain/altitude were big challenges in the Rockies. Nevertheless we were able to collect more than 200 crusts that we will use for testing on their resilience to space-like stresses back in Kansas.