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


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
Gokul, J, Cameron, K, Irvine-Fynn, T, Cook, J, Hubbard, A, Stibal, M, Hegarty, M, Mur, L & Edwards, A 2019, 'Illuminating the dynamic rare biosphere of the Greenland Ice Sheet's Dark Zone' FEMS Microbiology Ecology, vol. 95, no. 12, fiz177. https://doi.org/10.1093/femsec/fiz177
Blackwell, NL, Perkins, B, Palumbo-Roe, B, Bearcock, JM, Lloyd, JR & Edwards, A 2019, 'Seasonal blooms of neutrophilic Betaproteobacterial Fe(II) oxidizers and Chlorobi in iron-rich coal mine drainage sediments' FEMS Microbiology Ecology, vol. 95, no. 10, fiz140. https://doi.org/10.1093/femsec/fiz140
Brewer, TE, Albertsen, M, Edwards, A, Kirkegaard, R, Rocha, E & Fierer, N 2019, 'Unlinked rRNA genes are widespread among bacteria and archaea' ISME Journal. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41396-019-0552-3
More publications on the Research Portal