Sarah Kyker, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Soil Ecology

Research Interests

I am a microbial ecologist interested in the influence of human-induced and natural environmental changes on microbial communities. Because microorganisms are small in size, they are environmentally sensitive. Despite their small size, microorganisms can have a large impact on the overall health of a habitat due to their role in ecosystem processes. Consequently, environmental changes that alter microbial communities can have a large effect on the overall health of the habitat. My research focuses on deciduous forest soils, which harbor a tremendous diversity of microorganisms. For example, just a teaspoon of uncontaminated soil is estimated to contain millions of microbial species and billions of individual microbial cells. I primarily study bacteria and fungi, as these groups make up a large portion of the microbial diversity in soil. I use molecular techniques to study the community composition of microorganisms and functional genes possessed by microorganisms. The goal of my research is to help elucidate the importance of environmental changes to the health of a habitat or an ecosystem when these changes affect the smallest inhabitants.

Select Publications

  • Burke, D.J. and Carrino-Kyker, S.R. (2021) The influence of mycorrhizal fungi on rhizosphere bacterial communities in forests. In: Asiegbu, F. and Kovalchuk, A. Forest Microbiology, Volume 1: Tree Microbiome: Phyllosphere, Endosphere and Rhizosphere. Academic Press, London, UK.
  • Burke, D.J., Carrino-Kyker, S.R., Chervenak, C.F., Hoke, A.J., and Hewins C.R. (2021) The function of root mat fungal communities: Changes in response to pH and phosphorus addition. Plants, People, Planet 3:653-666.
  • Paolucci, A., Rauschert, E.S.J., Carrino-Kyker, S.R., and Burke, D. (2021) Root fungal communities associated with better performance of an invasive spring ephemeral. Biological Invasions 23:181-192.
  • Lance, A.C., Kyker, S.R., Burke, D.J., and Burns, J.H. (2020) Soil legacy effects influence tree growth and rhizosphere fungal communities in a temperate forest restoration experiment. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 7:500.
  • Carrino-Kyker, S.R., Coyle, K.P., Kluber, L.A., and Burke, D.J. (2020) Fungal and bacterial communities exhibit consistent responses to reversal of soil acidification and phosphorus limitation over time. Microorganisms 8:1.
  • Burke, D.J., Carrino-Kyker, S.R., and Burns, J.H. (2019) Is it climate or chemistry? Soil fungal communities respond to soil nutrients in a multi-year high resolution analysis. Ecosphere 10:e02896.
  • Burke, D.J., Carrino-Kyker, S.R., Hoke, A., Cassidy, S., Bialic-Murphy, L., and Kalisz, S. (2018) Deer and invasive plant removal alters mycorrhizal fungal communities and soil chemistry: Evidence from a long-term field experiment. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 128:13-21.


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