Disentangling how microbial communities in the permafrost will respond to thaw is one of the key interests of the Ernakovich lab group. Permafrost remains a large terrestrial carbon sink; with climate change accelerating in arctic regions, understanding how microbial communities will respond to thaw is of high importance. By using the latest DNA sequencing techniques combined with cutting edge microbial ecology we can better link the identity and function of microorganisms to determine their role in biogeochemical cycling.
Current projects include creation of the Permafrost Microbiome Database (PFMBDB) which aims to collect pre and post thaw amplicon data across many studies around the world. By examining an array of data we can decipher patterns in which microbial communities respond to thaw. We can also determine if factors such as vegetation, mineralogy and location are valuable predictors in determining the microbial community structure post thaw.