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Carbon cycling in degraded soils and its contribution to the regeneration of forests in the Eastern Amazon

Grant number: 23/02576-9
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2023
Effective date (End): March 31, 2026
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Agronomy - Soil Science
Principal Investigator:Tsai Siu Mui
Grantee:Jéssica Adriele Mandro
Host Institution: Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura (CENA). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Piracicaba , SP, Brazil


Deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest is one of Brazil's major environmental problems, with approximately 20% of its area already having been deforested. This can affect the role of the forest in the carbon cycle, leading to the release of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO‚), and altering its potential as a sink. Additionally, future temperature increases in the Amazon Basin may impact carbon cycling through their biotic and abiotic effects on litter decomposition. However, although litter is an important source of carbon for biogeochemical cycles, little is known about how land use changes and temperature affect its decomposition by microorganisms and CO2 fluxes, especially in tropical soils of the Amazon. Finally, some studies indicate that litter and its decomposition are determinants in forest maintenance, but little is known about their role in forest regeneration in the region. Thus, the objective of this research project is to study the effects of land use changes and temperature increases on litter decomposition and microbial communities associated with the process in soil, bringing important knowledge for predicting and modeling future greenhouse gas budgets in the Brazilian Amazon and also on carbon and microbiota dynamics in secondary forest areas in the region. Since fungi are essential for the decomposition of organic matter but little explored in the literature, in a study already partially conducted, the effects of land use and seasonality on the taxonomic and functional diversity of fungal communities present in soils of primary and secondary forests and pastures in the Amazon during dry and rainy seasons were evaluated. In a second study, soil microbial communities associated with litter will be evaluated in the field to understand the effects of land use on microbial taxonomic and functional diversities, as well as litter and carbon dynamics in each land use. Based on the initial field characterization, a third study will evaluate how different land uses and litter types influence their decomposition process by the microbiota, including evaluation in a temperature increase scenario through a microcosm experiment in the laboratory. For these evaluations, molecular and analytical methods will be integrated, including large-scale sequencing, real-time quantitative PCR, gas chromatography, along with bioinformatics and statistical computational analyses. (AU)

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