The University of Arizona
SWES dept logo Environmental Biogeochemistry Group Sabino Fall color
Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science

Research Project:
Plant-microbe-mineral interaction as a driver for rock weathering and chemical denudation

The role of biological weathering in the transformation of the earth’s near surface is of great interest in biogeosciences. However, it is not fully understood how plants, bacteria, and fungi (particularly mycorrhizal fungi) interact with abiotic forcings to promote the weathering of primary minerals and the formation of soil.

This project investigates how plants and microbes influence mineral weathering and leaching of mineral-forming elements. It is intended to help understand how tree and grass species common to the western U.S. (Ponderosa pine and Buffalo grass), affect bacterial, and fungal communities (particularly mycorrhizal fungi) to promote the weathering of rock-derived minerals and the incipient formation of soil. The group will focus on biological-abiotic couplings during laboratory-based weathering of four important rock types (basalt, granite, schist, and rhyolite) and the extent to which this weathering results in chemical denudation versus biomass accumulation or re-precipitation of dissolution products.

Plants and microbes affect weathering processes through elevating CO2 partial pressures in local subsurface weathering environments, through the exudation of metal complexing ligands and protons, and through tissue turnover. This project seeks to quantify these relative contributions, and to measure their impacts on primary rock weathering at the molecular to micro to macro scales.

We are presently seeking a postdoctoral scientist and graduate student researcher to collaborate on this research.

A mesquite root colonized by the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi Glomus interradices
Group Contacts:
Katerina Dontsova, Rob Root, and Jon Chorover 

PI: Katerina Dontsova, Biosphere 2
Co-PIs: Jon Chorover, Raina Maier, and Travis Huxman

Funding Source:
National Science Foundation, Geobiology and Low Temperature Geochemistry Program.  

Selected Project References (click here for full publication list):
None available at this time


Updated September 2, 2016

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