Congratulations to Laura Lehtovirta-Morley on her EU funding for nitrogen cycling research
October 2, 2019 12:03: pm | by Sarah Clarke
Dr Lehtovirta-Morley, a Royal Society fellow in the School of Biological Sciences at UEA since 2017, has been awarded a prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant of €1.5M to study nitrogen-cycling microorganisms in the soil. Modern agriculture relies heavily on the use of nitrogen-based fertilisers, but a vast proportion of the fertiliser is lost from agricultural soils due to the activity of microorganisms called ammonia oxidising archaea and bacteria. This results in greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, and can lead to water pollution and reduction in crop yields. Until recently, it has been challenging to study ammonia oxidising microorganisms and this has made it more difficult to predict and manage nitrogen turnover in soil environments. Dr Lehtovirta-Morley has carried out pioneering research in her field by isolating new, globally abundant soil ammonia oxidising archaea and characterising them in her laboratory. Using these microorganisms and innovative research tools funded by the ERC, she will now be able to study the biology of ammonia oxidation in exceptional detail, to reveal new mechanisms underpinning nitrogen cycling in the environment and, ultimately, to address problems which lead to climate change.