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 (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, no. 1, 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