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).


Module Coordinator
Additional Lecturer


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


Bellas, CM, Schroeder, DC, Edwards, A, Barker, G & Anesio, AM 2020, 'Flexible genes establish widespread bacteriophage pan-genomes in cryoconite hole ecosystems', Nature Communications, vol. 11, 4403. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-18236-8
Cameron, K, Müller, O, Stibal, M, Edwards, A & Jacobsen, C 2020, 'Glacial microbiota are hydrologically connected and temporally variable', Microbiology. https://doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.15059
Edwards, A, Cameron, KA, Cook, JM, Debbonaire, AR, Furness, E, Hay, MC & Rassner, SME 2020, 'Microbial genomics amidst the Arctic crisis', Microbial Genomics, vol. 6, no. 5. https://doi.org/10.1099/mgen.0.000375
Gowers, G-OF, Vince, O, Charles, J-H, Klarenberg, I & Edwards, A 2019, 'Entirely Off-Grid and Solar-Powered DNA Sequencing of Microbial Communities during an Ice Cap Traverse Expedition', Genes, vol. 10, no. 11, 902. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110902
Williamson, C, Cameron, K, Cook, J, Zarsky, J, Stibal, M & Edwards, A 2019, 'Glacier algae: a dark past and a darker future', Frontiers in Microbiology, vol. 10, 524. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2019.00524
More publications on the Research Portal