UL lecturer to dig deep for soil research

A MICROBIOLOGY lecturer in the University of Limerick has been awarded the Marie Curie Career Integration Grant worth €75,000 by the European Commission.

A MICROBIOLOGY lecturer in the University of Limerick has been awarded the Marie Curie Career Integration Grant worth €75,000 by the European Commission.

Dr. Achim Schmalenberger, joined the department of life sciences in UL as lecturer in microbiology in October 2010 from his position as Postdoctoral Research Officer at the University of Sheffield.

“This fellowship is a brilliant opportunity for me to kick-start my research here in Limerick,” he said.

His aim is to investigate the mobilisation of the dominating sulphur source in soils.

He explained that about 95% of the soil sulphur is not directly plant available. However, certain bacteria and fungi are capable to mobilize this sulphur sources and may therefore play an important role in plant growth.

“My lab will be using microcosms to study the transfer of sulphur from soil to plant via soil microbes and will use molecular tools to identify key organisms and study their metabolisms.

“I have two postgraduate students in my lab and am very excited that I can now boost these projects with the necessary support in consumables and additional instrumentation. I am looking forward to the next three years of research in environmental microbiology supported by Marie Curie.”

Professor Sean Arkins, head of the department, said this research is “novel and cutting edge and brings great synergy to our existing strengths in environmental biology”. The fellowship is a start-up grant for those who are beginning their first full-time research position at a university.