Photograph of Dr Arwyn Edwards.Dr Arwyn Edwards

Lecturer in Biology (Welsh Medium Delivery)


Office: T19a Cledwyn Building, Penglais Campus
Phone: +44 (0) 1970 622330

Teaching Areas


General Interests

The evolution, structure and functionality of microbial communities in the context of environmental change.

Permanently-cold regions account for roughly 80% (by volume) of the biosphere of our planet, which has already been subject to four major glaciations in the last 500 thousand years alone. Yet we remain profoundly ignorant of the richness and significance of the biodiversity inhabiting these regions since it is largely microbial in nature. However the attention focused upon these regions as a consequence of their apparent vulnerability to climate change coupled with the rapid pace of technological and conceptual development in microbial ecology offers the prospect of unlocking the secrets of life on our frozen planet.

Currently I am most interested in improving our understanding at all scales (from the molecular to the biome) of the dynamics of microbial communities associated with glaciers and ice sheets. These communities are potentially significant in terms of carbon cycling, interactions with glacier dynamics, as habitats for a diverse range of life-forms and finally models for other microbe-dominated habitats. Away from the ice, I am also involved in projects studying the occurrence of pathogens within the natural environment and the microbial ecology of mine drainage.

A common research theme is the integration of field-based sampling and experimentation (often in the High Arctic or Alps) with laboratory analyses which leverage significant investment at IBERS in terms of high-throughput DNA sequencing (metagenomics and amplicon sequencing) and other –omics strategies.

I jointly lead the Aberystwyth University’s Centre for Environmental Microbiology, a joint initiative between IBERS and the Department of Geography & Earth Sciences and am a member of the Microbiology Research Group within IBERS and affiliated to the Centre for Glaciology in the Department of Geography & Earth Sciences.

I am currently Co-Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator on externally-funded projects supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (New Investigator), The Royal Society, the NERC/BBSRC SynTax scheme (Co-PI), the Systematics Association, the Society for General Microbiology, the Freshwater Biology Association (Co-PI) and EU FP7 InterAct. I also act as the lead supervisor for the three PhD students in my research team.


I graduated from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth with a first degree in Microbiology in 2005, staying to complete a Ph.D. within the Institute of Biological, Environmental & Rural Sciences in 2009. During the tenure of my Ph.D. and as a teaching fellow (2008-2009) I was involved in developing Welsh Medium teaching within the field of Biological Sciences, and continue to do so in my present role as Lecturer (2010).



Pearce, D.A., Alekhina, I.A., Terauds, A., Wilmotte, A., Quesada, A., Edwards, A., Dommergue, A., Sattler, B., Adams, B., Magalhães, C.M., Chu, W., Lau, M., Cary, S.C., Smith, D.J., Wall, D., Eguren, G., Matcher, G., Bradley, J., de Vera, J.P., Elster, J., Hughes, K.., Benning, L.G., Gunde-Cimerman, N., Convey, P., Hong, S.G., Pointing, S.B., Pellizari, V.H., Vincent, W.F. 2016. Aerobiology over Antarctica – a new initiative for atmospheric ecology. Frontiers in Microbiology 7 7 10.3389/fmicb.2016.00016

Edwards Rassner, S., Anesio, A., Girdwood, S.E., Hell, K., Gokul, J., Whitworth, D., Edwards, A. 2016. (In press) Can the bacterial community of a High Arctic glacier surface escape viral control? Frontiers in Microbiology 7 956 10.3389/fmicb.2016.00956

Cook, J., Edwards, A., Takeuchi, N., Irvine-Fynn, T. 2016. Cryoconite: The dark biological secret of the cryosphere. Progress in Physical Geography 40 (1) pp. 66-111. 10.1177/0309133315616574

Lutz, S.., Anesio, A.M., Edwards, A., Benning, L.G. 2016. (In press) Linking microbial diversity and functionality of Arctic glacial surface habitats. Environmental Microbiology 10.1111/1462-2920.13494

Cook, J.M., Edwards, A., Bulling, M., Mur, L.A.J., Cook, S., Gokul, J.K., Cameron, K.A., Sweet, M., Irvine-Fynn, T.D.L. 2016. Metabolome-mediated biocryomorphic evolution promotes carbon fixation in Greenlandic cryoconite holes. Environmental Microbiology 10.1111/1462-2920.13349

Douglas, J., Worgan, H., Easton, G., Poret, L., Wolf, B., Edwards, A., Davies, E., Ross, D., McEwan, N. 2016. Microbial diversity in the digestive tract of two different breeds of sheep. Journal of Applied Microbiology 120 (5) pp. 1382-1389. 10.1111/jam.13060

Gokul, J., Hodson, A.J., Saetnan, E., Irvine-Fynn, T., Westall, P.J., Detheridge, A., Takeuchi, N., Bussell, J.., Mur, L., Edwards, A. 2016. Taxon interactions control the distributions of cryoconite bacteria colonizing a High Arctic ice cap. Molecular Ecology 25 (15) pp. 3752-3767. 10.1111/mec.13715

Hill, R., Saetnan, E.R., Scullion, J., Jones, D., Ostle, .N.J., Edwards, A. 2016. Temporal and spatial influences incur reconfiguration of Arctic heathland soil bacterial community structure. Environmental Microbiology 18 (6) pp. 1942-1953. 10.1111/1462-2920.13017

Lutz, S.., Anesio, A.M., Raiswell, R., Edwards, A., Newton, R.J., Gill, F., Benning, L.G. 2016. The biogeography of red snow microbiomes and their role in melting arctic glaciers. Nature Communications 7 11968 10.1038/ncomms11968


Cook, J., Edwards, A., Hubbard, A. 2015. Biocryomorphology: Integrating Microbial Processes with Ice Surface Hydrology, Topography, and Roughness. Frontiers in Earth Science 10.3389/feart.2015.00078

Edwards, A. 2015. Coming in from the cold: Potential microbial threats from the terrestrial cryosphere. Frontiers in Earth Science pp. 1-4. 10.3389/feart.2015.00012

Irvine-Fynn, T., Edwards, A., Mitchell, A. 2015. Is there life on glaciers?: Glacier ecosystems and their impacts. Geography Review 28 (3) pp. 38-41.

Stibal, M., Gözdereliler, E., Cameron, K., Box, J.E., Stevens, I., Gokul, J., Schostag, M., Zarsky, J., Edwards, A., Irvine-Fynn, T., Jacobsen, C. 2015. Microbial abundance in surface ice on the Greenland Ice Sheet. Frontiers in Microbiology 6 (225) 10.3389/fmicb.2015.00225

Lutz, S.., Anesio, A.M., Edwards, A., Benning, L. 2015. Microbial diversity on Icelandic glaciers and ice caps. Frontiers in Microbiology 10.3389/fmicb.2015.00307

Edwards, A., Cook, S.C. 2015. Microbial dynamics in glacier forefield soils show succession is not just skin deep. Molecular Ecology 24 (5) pp. 963-966. 10.1111/mec.13098


Irvine-Fynn, T.D., Edwards, A. 2014. A frozen asset: The potential of flow cytometry in constraining the glacial biome. Cytometry Part A 85 (1) pp. 3-7. 10.1002/cyto.a.22411

Edwards, A., Irvine-Fynn, T.D., Mitchell, A.C., Edwards Rassner, S.M. 2014. A germ theory for glacial systems? WIREs Water 1 (4) pp. 331-340. 10.1002/wat2.1029

Langford, H.J., Irvine-Fynn, T.D., Edwards, A., Banwart, S.A., Hodson, A.J. 2014. A spatial investigation of the environmental controls over cryoconite aggregation on Longyearbreen glacier, Svalbard. Biogeosciences Discussions 11 pp. 3423-3463. 10.5194/bgd-11-3423-2014

Edwards, A., Mur, L., Girdwood, S., Anesio, A.M., Stibal, M., Edwards Rassner, S., Hell, K., Pachebat, J., Post, B., Bussell, J.S., Cameron, S., Griffith, G., Hodson, A.J., Sattler, B. 2014. Coupled cryoconite ecosystem structure–function relationships are revealed by comparing bacterial communities in alpine and Arctic glaciers. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 89 (2) pp. 222-237. 10.1111/1574-6941.12283

Ransom-Jones, E., Jones, D.L., Edwards, A., McDonald, J.E. 2014. Distribution and diversity of members of the bacterial phylum Fibrobacteres in environments where cellulose degradation occurs. Systematic and Applied Microbiology 37 (7) pp. 502-509. 10.1016/j.syapm.2014.06.001

Blackwell, N.L., Edwards, A., Perkins, W.T. 2014. Etifeddiaeth gweithgareddau mwyngloddio ym maes glo de Cymru: llygredd dŵr, ffurfiant mwynau haearn ac opsiynau glanhau dŵr cyffredin. Gwerddon 18 pp. 55-70.


Edwards, A., Douglas, B., Anesio, A.M., Rassner, S.M., Irvine-fynn, T.D., Sattler, B., Griffith, G.W. 2013. A distinctive fungal community inhabiting cryoconite holes on glaciers in Svalbard. Fungal Ecology 10.1016/j.funeco.2012.11.001

Edwards, A., Pachebat, J.A., Swain, M.T., Hegarty, M.J., Hodson, A.J., Irvine-Fynn, T.D., Edwards Rassner, S.M., Sattler, B. 2013. A metagenomic snapshot of taxonomic and functional diversity in an Alpine glacier cryoconite ecosystem: Alpine cryoconite metagenome. Environmental Research Letters 8 (3) 035003 10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/035003

Edwards, A., Rassner, S.M., Anesio, A.M., Worgan, H.J., Irvine-Fynn, T.D., Williams, H.W., Sattler, B., Griffith, G.W. 2013. Contrasts between the cryoconite and ice-marginal bacterial communities of Svalbard glaciers: Bacterial communities of Svalbard glaciers. Polar Research 32 19468 10.3402/polar.v32i0.19468

Hell, K., Edwards, A., Zarsky, J., Podmirseg, S.M., Girdwood, S., Pachebat, J.A., Insam, H., Sattler, B. 2013. The dynamic bacterial communities of a melting High Arctic glacier snowpack. ISME Journal 7 pp. 1814-1826. 10.1038/ismej.2013.51


Dougal, K., Harris, P.A., Edwards, A., Pachebat, J.A., Blackmore, T.M., Worgan, H.J., Newbold, C.J. 2012. A comparison of the microbiome and the metabolome of different regions of the equine hindgut. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 82 (3) pp. 642-652. 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2012.01441.x

Edwards, A., Rassner, S.M., Irvine-Fynn, T.D., Williams, H.W., Griffith, G.W. 2012. Darogan cyfraniadau rhewlifoedd olaf Eryri i gylchredoedd carbon Cyfnod y Dryas Diweddaraf ar sail modelau amrwd o ecosystemau rhewlifol y cyfnod hwyr-rewlifol. Gwerddon (12) pp. 53-79. Other

Irvine-Fynn, T.D.L., Edwards, A., Newton, S., Langford, H., Rassner, S.M., Telling, J., Anesio, A.M., Hodson, A.J. 2012. Microbial cell budgets of an Arctic glacier surface quantified using flow cytometry. Environmental Microbiology 14 (11) pp. 2998-3012. 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2012.02876.x


Edwards, A., Anesio, A.M., Edwards Rassner, S.M., Sattler, B., Hubbard, B.P., Perkins, W.T., Young, M., Griffith, G.W. 2011. Possible interactions between bacterial diversity, microbial activity and supraglacial hydrology of cryoconite holes in Svalbard. ISME Journal 5 (1) pp. 150-160. 10.1038/ismej.2010.100 Cadair


Griffith, G., Easton, G.L., Detheridge, A., Roderick, K., Edwards, A., Worgan, H.J., Nicholson, J., Perkins, W.T. 2007. Copper deficiency in potato dextrose agar causes reduced pigmentation in cultures of various fungi. FEMS Microbiology Letters 276 (2) pp. 165-171. 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2007.00923.x