Brian Lanoil, Ph.D., B.A.
Pronouns: he, him, his;
Area of Study / Keywords
Microbial Ecology and Environmental Microbiology
I am a microbial ecologist and environmental microbiologist. Microbes are the oldest, most abundant, and most diverse organisms on the planet, and I work to understand how microbial communities change and adapt to a changing environment.
Dr. Lanoil talks about his research with ice cores and the Canadian Ice Core Archive
My interests fall into the broad area of microbial ecology and microbiology of extreme environments. The principle systems I study include:
1. Microbiology of icy arctic environments
The vast majority of Earth’s biosphere exists in permanently cold environments, including polar regions (14% of surface area) and deep ocean (90% by volume). Microorganisms are often the sole or dominant (both numerically and in terms of biomass) inhabitants of widespread cold environments such as subglacial systems, high arctic tundra soils, ice cores, and sub-ice marine environments. These environments are particularly susceptible to climate change as they are often poised between frozen and unfrozen states. Previous work in our lab has focused on glacial, proglacial, and subglacial microbiology; Arctic soils; and sea ice microbiology. Current projects in the laboratory in this area include:
a. Response of microbial communities to thawing permafrost
b. Using permafrost as an archive to reconstruct microbial community responses to past climate change
2. Microbiology of soil health
Our focus is on using the high resilience and rapid adaptation of microbial communities to disturbance to help determine optimal methods for regenerative agriculture and improving soil health. We are looking for interested partners and students to pursue this research. Our current projects involve examining soils from around Alberta to determine the impact of agricultural processes (e.g. tillage, synthetic fertilizer application, crop type) on microbial community structure and function, and using those changes to help determine soil health.
The methods that we use in my laboratory are both traditional microbiology and (meta)genomics based, although the emphasis is on non-culture based methods. Some of the main approaches we use include:
A. 16S rRNA gene based diversity analyses (via high-throughput sequencing)
C. Stable isotope probing
MICRB 320 Microbial Ecology
MICRB 423 Extreme Microbiology
Covers specialized topics of current interest to graduate students in Biological Sciences. Consult the Department for details about current offerings. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. Credit for this course may be obtained more than once.
A broad range of topics in microbial ecology are covered including aquatic and terrestrial habitats, the influence of health and disease on the human microbiome, symbiosis and pathogenesis in environmental systems, and the application of ecological theory to microbial populations and communities. Prerequisite: MICRB 265. Pre- or corequisite: BIOL 208, or consent of instructor.
This advanced microbiology course will cover selected topics of life in extreme environments, with particular emphasis on diversity, evolutionary and physiological adaptations, methodology for studying extreme environments, the effective limits of life, implications for biogeochemical cycling, and astrobiology. Examples of adaptation to specific environments will be the focus of student projects. Oral presentations required. Prerequisites: BIOL 322 or any 300 level MICRB course or consent of instructor. Note: MICRB 423 and 523 cannot both be taken for credit.
This advanced microbiology course will cover selected topics of life in extreme environments, with particular emphasis on diversity, evolutionary and physiological adaptations, methodology for studying extreme environments, the effective limits of life, implications for biogeochemical cycling, and astrobiology. Examples of adaptation to specific environments will be the focus of student projects. Oral presentations required. Lectures are the same as for MICRB 423, but with an additional assignment and evaluation appropriate to graduate studies. Prerequisites: consent of instructor. MICRB 423 and 523 cannot both be taken for credit.