Dr Arwyn Edwards


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 (C

Research Groups

  • Centre for Glaciology


Ransom-Jones, E, Jones, DL, Edwards, A & McDonald, JE 2014, 'Distribution and diversity of members of the bacterial phylum Fibrobacteres in environments where cellulose degradation occurs.' Systematic and Applied Microbiology, vol 37, no. 7, pp. 502-509. DOI: 10.1016/j.syapm.2014.06.001
Edwards, A, Mur, L, Girdwood, S, Anesio, AM, Stibal, M, Edwards Rassner, S, Hell, K, Pachebat, J, Post, B, Bussell, JS, Cameron, S, Griffith, G, Hodson, AJ & Sattler, B 2014, 'Coupled cryoconite ecosystem structure–function relationships are revealed by comparing bacterial communities in alpine and Arctic glaciers' FEMS Microbiology Ecology, vol 89, no. 2, pp. 222-237. DOI: 10.1111/1574-6941.12283
Edwards, A, Irvine-Fynn, TD, Mitchell, AC & Edwards Rassner, SM 2014, 'A germ theory for glacial systems?' WIREs Water, vol 1, no. 4, pp. 331-340. DOI: 10.1002/wat2.1029
Irvine-Fynn, TD & Edwards, A 2014, 'A frozen asset: The potential of flow cytometry in constraining the glacial biome' Cytometry Part A, vol 85, no. 1, pp. 3-7. DOI: 10.1002/cyto.a.22411
Langford, HJ, Irvine-Fynn, TD, Edwards, A, Banwart, SA & Hodson, AJ 2014, 'A spatial investigation of the environmental controls over cryoconite aggregation on Longyearbreen glacier, Svalbard.' Biogeosciences Discussions, vol 11, pp. 3423-3463. DOI: 10.5194/bgd-11-3423-2014
Blackwell, NL, Edwards, A & Perkins, WT 2014, 'Etifeddiaeth gweithgareddau mwyngloddio ym maes glo de Cymru: llygredd dŵr, ffurfiant mwynau haearn ac opsiynau glanhau dŵr cyffredin.' Gwerddon, vol 18, pp. 55-70.
Edwards, A, Douglas, B, Anesio, AM, Rassner, SM, Irvine-fynn, TD, Sattler, B & Griffith, GW 2013, 'A distinctive fungal community inhabiting cryoconite holes on glaciers in Svalbard' Fungal Ecology. DOI: 10.1016/j.funeco.2012.11.001
Hell, K, Edwards, A, Zarsky, J, Podmirseg, SM, Girdwood, S, Pachebat, JA, Insam, H & Sattler, B 2013, 'The dynamic bacterial communities of a melting High Arctic glacier snowpack' ISME Journal, vol 7, pp. 1814-1826. DOI: 10.1038/ismej.2013.51
Edwards, A, Rassner, SM, Anesio, AM, Worgan, HJ, Irvine-Fynn, TD, Williams, HW, Sattler, B & Griffith, GW 2013, 'Contrasts between the cryoconite and ice-marginal bacterial communities of Svalbard glaciers: Bacterial communities of Svalbard glaciers' Polar Research, vol 32, 19468. DOI: 10.3402/polar.v32i0.19468
Edwards, A, Pachebat, JA, Swain, MT, Hegarty, MJ, Hodson, AJ, Irvine-Fynn, TD, Edwards Rassner, SM & Sattler, B 2013, 'A metagenomic snapshot of taxonomic and functional diversity in an Alpine glacier cryoconite ecosystem: Alpine cryoconite metagenome' Environmental Research Letters, vol 8, no. 3, 035003. DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/035003
Dougal, K, Harris, PA, Edwards, A, Pachebat, JA, Blackmore, TM, Worgan, HJ & Newbold, CJ 2012, 'A comparison of the microbiome and the metabolome of different regions of the equine hindgut' FEMS Microbiology Ecology, vol 82, no. 3, pp. 642-652. DOI: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2012.01441.x
Edwards, A, Rassner, SM, Irvine-Fynn, TD, Williams, HW & Griffith, GW 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, no. 12, pp. 53-79.
Irvine-Fynn, TDL, Edwards, A, Newton, S, Langford, H, Rassner, SM, Telling, J, Anesio, AM & Hodson, AJ 2012, 'Microbial cell budgets of an Arctic glacier surface quantified using flow cytometry' Environmental Microbiology, vol 14, no. 11, pp. 2998-3012. DOI: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2012.02876.x
Edwards, A, Anesio, AM, Edwards Rassner, SM, Sattler, B, Hubbard, BP, Perkins, WT, Young, M & Griffith, GW 2011, 'Possible interactions between bacterial diversity, microbial activity and supraglacial hydrology of cryoconite holes in Svalbard' ISME Journal, vol 5, no. 1, pp. 150-160. DOI: 10.1038/ismej.2010.100
Griffith, G, Easton, GL, Detheridge, A, Roderick, K, Edwards, A, Worgan, HJ, Nicholson, J & Perkins, WT 2007, 'Copper deficiency in potato dextrose agar causes reduced pigmentation in cultures of various fungi' FEMS Microbiology Letters, vol 276, no. 2, pp. 165-171. DOI: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2007.00923.x
Segawa, T, Yonezawa, T, Edwards, A, Akiyoshi, A, Tanaka, S, Uetake, J, Irvine-Fynn, T, Fukui, K, Li, Z & Takeuchi, N 2017, 'Biogeography of cryonconite forming cyanobacteria on polar and Asian glaciers' Journal of Biogeography. DOI: 10.1111/jbi.13089
Edwards, A & Cameron, K 2017, Microbial Life in Supraglacial Environments. in R Margesin (ed.), Psychrophiles: From Biodiversity to Biotechnology. Springer Nature, pp. 57-82. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-57057-0_4
Ryan, JC, Hubbard, A, Box, JE, Brough, S, Cameron, K, Cook, JM, Cooper, M, Doyle, SH, Edwards, A, Holt, T, Irvine-Fynn, T, Jones, C, Pitcher, LH, Rennermalm, ÅK, Smith, LC, Stibal, M & Snooke, N 2017, 'Derivation of High Spatial Resolution Albedo from UAV Digital Imagery: Application over the Greenland Ice Sheet' Frontiers in Earth Science. DOI: 10.3389/feart.2017.00040
Lutz, S, Anesio, AM, Edwards, A & Benning, LG 2017, 'Linking microbial diversity and functionality of Arctic glacial surface habitats' Environmental Microbiology, vol 19, no. 2, pp. 551-565. DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.13494
Gokul, J, Hodson, AJ, Saetnan, E, Irvine-Fynn, T, Westall, PJ, 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, vol 25, no. 15, pp. 3752-3767. DOI: 10.1111/mec.13715
Cook, JM, Edwards, A, Bulling, M, Mur, LAJ, Cook, S, Gokul, JK, Cameron, KA, Sweet, M & Irvine-Fynn, TDL 2016, 'Metabolome-mediated biocryomorphic evolution promotes carbon fixation in Greenlandic cryoconite holes' Environmental Microbiology, vol 18, no. Thematic Issue, pp. 4674-4686. DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.13349
Hill, R, Saetnan, ER, Scullion, J, Jones, D, Ostle, NJ & Edwards, A 2016, 'Temporal and spatial influences incur reconfiguration of Arctic heathland soil bacterial community structure' Environmental Microbiology, vol 18, no. 6, pp. 1942-1953. DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.13017
Lutz, S, Anesio, AM, Raiswell, R, Edwards, A, Newton, RJ, Gill, F & Benning, LG 2016, 'The biogeography of red snow microbiomes and their role in melting arctic glaciers' Nature Communications, vol 7, 11968. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms11968
Edwards Rassner, S, Anesio, A, Girdwood, SE, 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, vol 7, 956. DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.00956
Douglas, J-L, 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, vol 120, no. 5, pp. 1382-1389. DOI: 10.1111/jam.13060
Pearce, DA, Alekhina, IA, Terauds, A, Wilmotte, A, Quesada, A, Edwards, A, Dommergue, A, Sattler, B, Adams, B, Magalhães, CM, Chu, W-L, Lau, M, Cary, SC, Smith, DJ, Wall, D, Eguren, G, Matcher, G, Bradley, J, de Vera, J-PP, Elster, J, Hughes, K, Benning, LG, Gunde-Cimerman, N, Convey, P, Hong, SG, Pointing, SB, Pellizari, VH & Vincent, WF 2016, 'Aerobiology over Antarctica – a new initiative for atmospheric ecology' Frontiers in Microbiology, vol 7, 7. DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.00016
Cook, J, Edwards, A, Takeuchi, N & Irvine-Fynn, T 2016, 'Cryoconite: The dark biological secret of the cryosphere' Progress in Physical Geography, vol 40, no. 1, pp. 66-111. DOI: 10.1177/0309133315616574
Stevens, IT, Irvine-Fynn, T, Porter, PR, Smart, M, Moorman, BJ, Hodson, AJ, Edwards, A & Mitchell, A 2016, 'Near-surface permeability of Northern Hemisphere Glaciers' AGU Fall Meeting 2016, San Francisco, United States of America, 2016 - 2016, pp. C41D-0708.
Cook, J, Edwards, A & Hubbard, A 2015, 'Biocryomorphology: Integrating Microbial Processes with Ice Surface Hydrology, Topography, and Roughness' Frontiers in Earth Science. DOI: 10.3389/feart.2015.00078
Lutz, S, Anesio, AM, Edwards, A & Benning, L 2015, 'Microbial diversity on Icelandic glaciers and ice caps' Frontiers in Microbiology. DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2015.00307
Edwards, A 2015, 'Coming in from the cold: Potential microbial threats from the terrestrial cryosphere' Frontiers in Earth Science, pp. 1-4. DOI: 10.3389/feart.2015.00012
Stibal, M, Gözdereliler, E, Cameron, K, Box, JE, 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, vol 6, no. 225. DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2015.00225
Edwards, A & Cook, SC 2015, 'Microbial dynamics in glacier forefield soils show succession is not just skin deep' Molecular Ecology, vol 24, no. 5, pp. 963-966. DOI: 10.1111/mec.13098
Irvine-Fynn, T, Edwards, A & Mitchell, A 2015, 'Is there life on glaciers?: Glacier ecosystems and their impacts' Geography Review, vol 28, no. 3, pp. 38-41.
Gwynn-Jones, D, Jones, A, Ostle, N, Edwards, A, Scullion, J, Hill, R, Comont, D, Bussell, J, Oakley, S, Mason, K & Callaghan, TV 2015, How does increasing CO2 affect soil microbial diversity and carbon fluxes? in TV Callaghan & H Savela (eds), INTERACT Stories of Arctic Science. Aarhus University Press, pp. 96-97.