Professor Tim Daniell

Tim DaniellTel: +44 (0)114 222 0137


Room A05, AWEC


2016-present: N8 Chair in Soil Microbiology, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield

2016-present: Research Leader in Soil Ecology (Grade G), The James Hutton Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee

2015-2016: Adjunct Chair in Rhizosphere Interactions, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield

2013-2016: Theme Leader – Sustainable Production Systems, (Grade G) The James Hutton Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee

2011-2013: Research Leader in Soil Ecology (Grade F), The James Hutton Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee

2009-2011: Research Leader in Soil Ecology (Grade F), Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI), Invergowrie, Dundee

2000-2009: Research Leader in Soil Ecology (Grade 5/E), Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI), Invergowrie, Dundee

1997-2000: Research Fellow, Department of Biology, University of York

1995-1997: Senior Research Assistant, Biological Sciences, Lancaster University

1992-1995: Research Associate, Biological Sciences, University of Durham

1992: PhD, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick: Regulation of expression of the glutamine synthetase gln-α gene of Phaseolus vulgaris L., Supervisor: Dr Julie Cullimore 

1988: BSc (Hons), Biological Sciences, University of Nottingham

Research Interests

Arbuscular mycorrhizal ecology
For many years I have been involved in mycorrhizal ecology focusing on the dynamics of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. I have been heavily involved in the development of the application of molecular methods to improve understanding of community dynamics of this key fungal group resulting in the publication of a number of high impact papers. My work has focused on the impact of arable farming on AM fungi with published work highlighting the depauperate nature of the group under conventional farming. In addition, work in grasslands discovered both host preference and links to bacterial communities and recent research in a boreal system (in collaboration with Maarja Öpike and others at the University of Tartu) uncovered an unexpected high richness in AM fungi linked community structure to functional differences, and identified a link between community structure and plant functional group.

Current projects include: work primarily by Jane Davidson further exploring community dynamics in arable systems; a PhD student, Alex van den Bos, co supervised with Alison Bennett and Dave Johnson at the University of Aberdeen) exploring the effect of tillage on AM fungi community structure and function; and work with Alison Bennett and Sandra Caul exploring the role of plant breeding in reducing crop response to AM fungi.

Microbial nitrogen cycling
Since appointment at Sheffield, I have become involved in the area of microbial nitrogen cycling in soil. This work  has expanded - mainly through a collaboration with Liz Baggs at Aberdeen and has taken the form of joint studentships funded either through NERC CASE or the Institute/University joint scheme.

Miriam Herold undertook a project examining the relative role of fungal and bacterial denitrification in arable systems mainly utilising a long term pH gradient at SAC Craibstone.

Maddy Giles is exploring the role of rhizodeposition in driving denitrification using artificial root systems.

Marcin Skiba (who is also jointly supervised by Tim George) is undertaking a project examining the mechanisms lying behind variation in biological nitrification inhibition (BNI) observed between barley cultivars.

Other work in this area, undertaken primarily by Susan Mitchell, is exploring the differences in nitrous oxide emission observed between different barley lines that may provide breeding targets to aid reduced arable farming environmental impacts.

Free-living nematode dynamics
Nematodes provide an opportunity to understand the soil food web since they are a key group with representation at most trophic levels within that web. For this reason free living nematodes have often been suggested as an ideal group for the estimation of soil health, although issues associated with sample processing due to time-consuming traditional identification have often limited application.

Suzanne Donnn (funded by the BBSRC and supervised jointly with Roy Neilson and Bryan Griffiths (SAC Edinburgh)) developed and tested a molecular method based on terminal restriction length polymorphism (T-RFLP). This method allows a massive increase in the numbers of samples that can be analysed, which will allow the application of nematode community dynamics to be considered as an indicator of soil health for monitoring purposes.

This methodology has been tested in other systems as part of joint student projects undertaken by Xiaoyun Chen, in Ireland (co-supervised by Bryan Griffiths, Roy Neilson and Vincent O’Flaherty (UNI Galway)) and Stefanie Vink on the Machair of the Western Isles (supervised jointly with Roy Neilson and David Robinson, University of Aberdeen).

Most recently, we have employed Lea Wiesel to explore spatial structure in a sand dune system to further test and develop the methodology.

Professional Activities

  • Editorial Board: FEMS Microbiology Letters (Section editor for Environmental Microbiology) and Frontiers in Microbiology
  • Committee memberships: BES special interest group “Plants, Soils, Ecosystems”
  • Honorary Lecturer, University of Dundee
  • European Science Foundation – Review panel member
  • Member of BBSRC pool of experts

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