Amy Treonis' Lab

We study soil ecology in diverse habitats, from agro-ecosystems to hot deserts. Soils contain a frequently unrecognized wealth of biodiversity, and therefore they can easily be used to explore ecological principles. Our research focuses specifically on soil nematodes, which are microscopic roundworms found in soils everywhere. Species of nematodes can feed on bacteria, fungi, plants, or other nematodes. One long-standing issue in ecology is determining how species that share the same resources can co-exist. Bacterial-feeding nematode communities are perfect for exploring this issue because many species can be found in the same habitat, particularly in desert soil. However, little is known about their feeding preferences with respect to different types of bacteria. Our research explores these issues using methodology that combines collection and experimentation at field sites, classic and cutting-edge microscopy (including electron microscopy and fluorescent confocal laser scanning techniques ), and molecular biology.

Current Projects

  • Assessing bacterial, archaeal, and nematode community diversity in Death Valley soils using molecular fingerprinting techniques.
  • Using phylogenetic FISH staining to assess the feeding preferences of soil nematodes.
  • Soil food web responses to organic amendment in agricultural plots.
  • Nematode ecology in extreme environments, including the Mojave Desert and the granite rock outcrops of the southeastern Piedmont region.