FEMS Microbiology Letters best flash presentation prize: Amy Thorpe

We send our congratulations to Amy Thorpe, who won the best flash presentation prize at the Molecular Microbial Ecology Group meeting. This prize is sponsored by our journal FEMS Microbiology Letters.

The Molecular Microbial Ecology Group meeting (MMEG) took place on 1-2 December 2022 in Glasgow.

Read our interview with Amy about her research below:


What is your current position, and what was your scientific journey to get there?

I am currently in the final year of my PhD working with the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the University of Birmingham. My PhD research focusses on how we can use microbial biomarkers (DNA and lipids) preserved in lake sediment cores to study past microbial communities and the environmental changes they may have experienced. Prior to my PhD, I completed a master’s degree at the University of Bristol studying the physiological differences between polar and temperate strains of microalgae, and a bachelor’s degree in Zoology at the University of Birmingham.”

Amy Thorpe (left) and David Mark (right)
Could you describe the research your presentation covered?

I shared some of the results from a chapter of my PhD thesis which was published earlier this year (https://doi.org/10.1002/edn3.344) where we reconstructed over 100 years of bacterial community change using DNA extracted from lake sediment cores. DNA from the microbial community in the water column is deposited in the lake sediment where it is preserved and progressively buried over time. We can then extract this DNA from layers of a sediment core to produce a temporal record of microbial community change. After validating our sedimentary DNA record with a microscopy-based monitoring record of cyanobacteria, we were able to show how different groups of bacteria may have responded to past eutrophication, and whether there was any evidence of the bacterial community recovering from this eutrophication in recent decades.”


What do you hope to focus your research on in the future?

The use of ancient sedimentary DNA to study past microbial communities is a relatively new application of environmental DNA, and there are lots of exciting questions waiting to be answered. I hope to continue my research using ancient sedimentary DNA to see how far back in time we can go and apply this technique to the wider lake community.”


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