Dr Arwyn Edwards PhD

Dr Arwyn Edwards

Senior Lecturer in Biology

Contact Details


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) and Senior Lecturer (2015).



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. Yet we remain profoundly ignorant of the richness & 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 & conceptual development in microbial ecology offers the prospect of unlocking the secrets of life on our frozen planet.

I am interested in improving our understanding at all scales of the dynamics of microbial communities associated with glaciers & ice sheets, from the molecular to the biome. These communities are potentially significant in terms of carbon cycling, interactions with glacier dynamics, as habitats for a diverse range of life-forms & 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 & the microbial ecology of mine drainage.

A common research theme is the integration of field-based sampling & 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 & amplicon sequencing) & other -omics strategies.

I jointly lead the Centre for Environmental Microbiology. I am Co-Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator on a variety of 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) & EU FP7 InterAct. I also act as the lead supervisor for the three PhD students in my research team.

Research Groups



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 Cadair

Edwards Rassner, S., Anesio, A., Girdwood, S.E., Hell, K., Gokul, J., Whitworth, D., Edwards, A. 2016. Can the bacterial community of a High Arctic glacier surface escape viral control? Frontiers in Microbiology 7 956 Cadair

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.

Lutz, S., Anesio, A.M., Edwards, A., Benning, L.G. 2016. Linking microbial diversity and functionality of Arctic glacial surface habitats. Environmental Microbiology

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 18 (Thematic Issue) pp. 4674-4686.

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.

Stevens, I.T., Irvine-Fynn, T., Porter, P.R., Smart, M., Moorman, B.J., Hodson, A.J., Edwards, A., Mitchell, A. 2016. Near-surface permeability of Northern Hemisphere Glaciers. AGU Fall Meeting 2016, San Francisco, United States of America, 12/12/2016 - 16/12/2016. pp. C41D-0708. Other

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.

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.

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 Cadair


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

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

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) Cadair

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

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. Cadair


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. Cadair

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.

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. Cadair

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. Cadair

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.

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

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 Cadair

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 Cadair

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.


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.

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. [Predicting contributions by the last glaciers of Eryri (Snowdonia) to Younger Dryas carbon cycling on the basis of numerical models of late-glacial ecosystems.] 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.


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. 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.