Staff Profile - Nathan Basiliko
CRC Tier 2 Environmental Microbiology
Living with Lake Centre, Laurentian University
935 Ramsey Lake Road
t. 705-675-1151 ext. 4150
Environmental microbiology; soil science; ecosystem ecology; wetlands; forest; soil science; global and environmental change; natural resource management; ecosystem restoration
Microorganisms play vital roles in ecosystems. Our group’s work explores soil and sediment microbial communities and microorganisms. In particular, we focus on microbial responses to human-induced environmental changes that have consequences for greenhouse gas fluxes, nutrient, pollutant, and carbon dynamics, as well as broader ecosystem sustainability. Most of our current research projects are in applied settings (e.g. in managed forests; mining-impacted landscapes) with important private sector and governmental research partners. However, we also explore more universal controls on microbial diversity in soils, links between diversity and activity, and are interested in how different soil microbial communities transform plant tissues into soil organic matter and then subsequently decompose this organic matter to mineral products, including greenhouse gases. Field research sites span the north temperate (Great Lakes St Lawrence Forest) and boreal forests of eastern and central Canada and peatlands (globally important carbon-accumulating wetlands with organic soils) across Canada and the USA. New work is underway in industrial-impacted landscapes in Sudbury, including mine tailings management areas and smelter-impacted forests, wetlands, and lakes.
Students are the crux of our research program! Please contact me by email if you are interested in finding out more about doctoral, masters, or undergraduate research opportunities.
Current students and post-doctoral fellows (at Laurentian University)
•Dr. Michael Preston (PDF at at the Vale Living with Lakes Centre, Laurentian University)
•Kelly Chan-Yam (PhD student, Boreal Ecology, Laurentian University)
•James Seward (PhD student, Boreal Ecology, Laurentian University, co-supervised with Pascale Roy-Léveillée and Suzanna Bräuer)
•Sabrina Desjardins (PhD student, Natural Resources Engineering, Laurentian University; co-supervised with J Ashley Scott)
•Tom Snyder (part-time MSc student, Biology, Laurentian University)
•Saskia Hart (MSc student, Biology, Laurentian University; co-supervised with Lisa Venier at the Canadian Forest Service)
•Jonathan Lavigne (MSc student, Biology, Laurentian University; co-supervised with Peter Beckett)
•Robyn Rumney (MSc student, Biology, Laurentian University; co-supervised with John Gunn)
•Merritt Kennedy (MASc student, Engineering, Laurentian University; co-supervised with J Ashley Scott)
•Chantae Robinson (MSc student, Biology, Laurentian University, co-supervised with Pascale Roy-Léveillée)
Past students (at Laurentian University and the University of Toronto)
•Adam Kirkwood (MSc 2019, Laurentian University; co-supervised with Pascale Roy-Léveillée)
•Michelle Dart (MSc 2019, Laurentian University)
•Leland Johnston (MSc 2019, Laurentian University)
•Dr. Martin Brummell (PDF at the Vale Living with Lakes Centre)
•Dr. Asma Asemaninejad (PDF at the Vale Living with Lakes Centre; co-supervised with Nadia Mykytczuk)
•Adrian Kuchtaruk (NSERC USRA-funded researcher; Undergraduate honours thesis student at Queens University with Paul Grogan)
•Chantae Robinson (Undergraduate thesis 2019, Laurentian University; co-supervised with Pascale Roy-Léveillée)
•Heather Patterson (Undergraduate thesis 2019, Laurentian University; co-supervised with Peter Beckett)
•Amy Laframboise (Undergraduate thesis 2019, Laurentian University)
•Michael Carson (PhD 2018, Laurentian University)
•Jesse Hoage (MSc 2017, Laurentian University; co-supervised with Lisa Venier at the Canadian Forest Service)
•Kurt Yakimovich (MSc 2017, Laurentian University; co-supervisor with Nadia Mykytczuk)
•Shanay Williams-Johnson (MSc 2016, Laurentian University; co-supervisor with Nadia Mykytczuk)
•Bryce Robinson (Undergraduate honours thesis, 2016, Laurentian University)
•Jason Shabaga (PhD, 2016, University of Toronto)
•Genevieve Noyce (PhD 2016, University of Toronto; co-supervisor with R Fulthorpe)
•Carolyn Winsborough (PhD 2015, University of Toronto)
•Galen Guo (MSc 2015, Laurentian University)
•Adam Gorgolewski (MSc-F 2015, University of Toronto, co-supervised with John Caspersen)
•Gurpreet Aulakh (Undergraduate honours thesis, 2015, Laurentian University)
•Jennifer Pichette (Undergraduate honours thesis, 2015, Laurentian University)
•Emily Smenderovac (MSc-F 2014, University of Toronto; co-supervised with John Caspersen)
•Michael Preston (PhD 2013, University of Toronto)
•Michael McTavish (Undergraduate honours thesis, 2012, University of Toronto)
•Stephanie Pugliese (Undergraduate honours thesis, 2012, University of Toronto)
•Darcie McNeill (Undergraduate honours thesis, 2012, University of Toronto)
•Tara Sackett (PDF 2010-13, University of Toronto)
•Varun Gupta (MSc 2011 and Undergraduate honours thesis, 2009, University of Toronto)
•Aaron Godin (Undergraduate honours thesis, 2010, University of Toronto)
•Kristine Haynes (Undergraduate honours thesis, 2010, University of Toronto)
•Phil Rudz (Undergraduate honours thesis, 2010, University of Toronto)
•Cori Armés (MSc 2009, University of Toronto)
•Britney Myers (Undergraduate honours thesis, 2009, University of Toronto)
•Natalia Voloshchuk (Undergraduate honours thesis, 2009, University of Toronto)
•Carolyn Winsborough (NSERC USRA summer student 2008, University of Toronto
Education and professional experience:
•Professor and Canada Research Chair, Laurentian University (2013-)
•President -Elect (2019) President (2020) and Past-President (2021) of the Canadian Society of Soil Science
•Associate Editor, Soil Research (2015-)
•Associate Editor, FEMS Microbiology Letters (2015-)
•Associate Editor, Canadian Journal of Soil Science (2013-)
•Governing Council member (Eastern Councillor) of the Canadian Society of Soil Science (2015-2016)
•Assistant and Associate Professor (2006-13) University of Toronto (Mississauga campus), Department of Geography
•Post-Doctoral Fellow (2004-06) University of British Columbia, Department of Forest Sciences
•Ph.D. (2005) McGill University, Montreal, Canada. Department of Geography
•B.S. (1999) Cornell University, Ithaca, USA. Concentration in Natural Resources
Publications (on Google Scholar) http://scholar.google.ca/citations?user=ed1fimwAAAAJ
Current funded research projects
The functional role of microbial diversity in terrestrial ecosystems. This broad project is funded by a NSERC Discovery Grant and the Canada Research Chairs programme and is supporting research in Canadian peatland, forest, and lake ecosystems. Some of my key collaborators on this work are Kurt Smemo (Skidmore College), Joe Yavitt (Cornell University), Suzanna Bräuer (Appalachian State University), Shaun Watmough (Trent University) Erik Lilleskov and Jamie Lamit (US Forest Service), Andrew Tanentzap (Cambridge University), Erik Emilson, Lisa Venier, Kara Webster, and Paul Hazlett (Canadian Forest Service), Tim Moore (McGill University), Trevor Jones, Jim McLaughlin, Maara Packalen, and Dave Morris (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry), Brian Branfireun (Western University), Nadia Mykytczuk, Graeme Spiers, Peter Beckett, Pascale Roy-Léveillée, and Daniel Campbell (Laurentian University)
Landscape Carbon Accumulation through Reductions in Emissions (L-CARE): developing reclamation protocols for carbon sequestration and habitat use.
This project (2018-2021) is funded by NSERC CRD and Ontario Centres of Excellence’s TargetGHG program aims to quantify how large sulfur and metal emissions reductions from the mining sector in Sudbury, combined with novel ecosystem and mine waste management area reclamation practices, will lead to carbon sequestration and influence the underlying processes of primary production, mineralization, and carbon and energy transfer through upland, wetland, and lake ecosystems. Basiliko (PI) with John Gunn (co-PI), Nadia Mykytczuk, Graeme Spiers, Peter Beckett (Laurentian), John Smol, Andrew Paterson (Queens University), J Michael Waddington (McMaster University), Shaun Watmough (Trent University), Paul del Giorgio, Yves Prairie (UQAM), JP Bellenger (University of Sherbrooke), Joe Yavitt (Cornell University), Andrew Tanentzap (Cambridge University), Erik Emilson (CFS), Trevor Jones (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry), and Brie Edwards (Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change). Our partners are Vale Canada, Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations (a Glencore company), and the City of Greater Sudbury.
Enhancing Dewatering, Drying, Combustion and Utilization of Pulp and Paper Mill Biosludge.
This project (2017-2020) is funded by NSERC CRD and is part of a large university-industry consortium led out of Faculty of Engineering at the University of Toronto since the mid-1980s. Grant Allen is the PI on this project, and the key group leaders of the larger program are Honghi Tran, Niko DiMartini, Grant, and Markus Bussmanm from Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Toronto. The consortium at large addresses challenges in the pulp and paper sector in Canada and beyond, including on energy and chemical recovery, water and waste mitigation, exploring novel uses for mill residuals (my group’s primary role in the consortium), among many others. This internationally recognized consortium has had continuous NSERC support and from more than 50 industrial partner companies since its inception 30 years ago. My group is exploring how mineral (biomass boiler ash, recovery boiler dregs, grits, and lime mud) and organic (primary WWTP sludge and biosolids from mills) can be used, modified, and mixed for soil amendment and land reclamation purposes.
Prospecting for non-ore resources in Ontario’s mining sector.
This project (2019-2021) funded by the Ontario Centres of Excellence VIP-II program (PI J Ashley Scott, with Basiliko and Corey Laamanen), and other NSERC and MITACS funding to Ashley Scott and me, builds on Dr. Scott’s ongoing work and expertise capturing waste heat and energy in the Sudbury mining sector for industrial microalgae production and novel bio-products. The program (and students and other collaborators) is profiled in detail at: http://www.ongen.ca/
Microbial consortia in mining waste rock: understanding microbial dynamics to optimize metal recovery, minimize metal migration and facilitate revegetation in cold environments.
This project (2017-2020) is led by Susan Glasaur (University of Guelph; with Shaun Watmough at Trent University, Nadia Mykytczuk, Thomas Merritt, and me at Laurentian University) and is funded by Environment Canada. My group’s roles collaboratively with Nadia and Shaun is to explore the microbial roles in plant colonization of legacy mine wastes and explore the role of organic amendments in stimulating a soil-like heterotrophic microbial community.
I typically teach BIOL20206EL Introduction to Microbiology, BIOL3026EL Applied and Environmental Microbiology, and BIOL4076EL Ecosystem Ecology at Laurentian.