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Research Fellows Directory

Thomas Bell

Dr Thomas Bell

Research Fellow


Imperial College London

Research summary

Bacteria underpin natural ecosystems by decomposing organic matter, by recycling nutrients, and by acting as a food source for the rest of the food web. Using a combination of field studies and laboratory experiments, my research attempts to explain how changes to diverse communities of bacteria alter the surrounding ecosystem. Previously, I have shown that altering the biodiversity of bacterial communities alters the rate of decomposition, and that this pattern is contingent on the environmental conditions in which the bacteria evolved. Recently, I have begun to extend this line of research to a wide array of ecosystems, including UK soil and Arctic streams. Since bacteria are everywhere, there are many applications for this type of research. For example, my recent research has shown that antibiotic resistance in bacteria can be understood in the context of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Future research will focus, for example, on whether we can manipulate bacterial communities in order to enhance carbon storage.

Grants awarded

Engineered ecosystem services using synthetic bacterial communities

Scheme: University Research Fellowship

Dates: Oct 2015 - Sep 2018

Value: £316,273.02

Ecosystem functioning of natural bacterial communities

Scheme: University Research Fellowship

Dates: Oct 2010 - Sep 2015

Value: £548,050.59

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