A huge congratulations to Dr. Belinda Ferrari, a successful applicant for the highly competitive ARC Future Fellowship award.
Atmospheric carbon fixation: a novel microbial process in Antarctic soils. This project aims to challenge our global understanding of carbon fixation. In most ecosystems, phototrophy supports higher-trophic life, yet no genetic evidence for photosynthesis exists in Antarctic desert soils. The project will determine the significance of atmospheric chemotrophy, a microbial driven process based on the consumption of atmospheric gases that it is proposed supports energy maintenance and biomass assimilation in nutrient-starved Antarctic desert soils. Additionally, the project will establish if these processes are structuring soil microbial communities, particularly in response to climate change. The expected project outcome is knowledge of primary production at the nutritional limits of life. This should provide significant benefit, such as a shift in our knowledge of the biological sciences as a new minimalistic mode of primary production.