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Wakelin, Dr Steve
Senior Scientist

Group:  Innovative Farm Systems


+64 3 325 9981

Steve Wakelin is a microbial ecologist working at Lincoln. His research explores the roles of soil microorganisms for improving plant growth and nutrient use efficiency in pasture production systems. Current projects include: assessing impacts of new technologies (e.g. nanoparticles, new chemicals) and land-use changes (e.g. grassland conversion to pasture) affect microbial community structure and function; effects of land-use change (e.g. grassland conversion to pasture) on microbial community structure and function; harnessing plant-microbe interactions to increase plant growth and health; defining the role of fungi in soil greenhouse gas (N2O) emissions, and identifying microbial constraints to S oxidation in pasture soils (targeted S fertiliser application). 

Steve has a PhD in microbial control of Aphanomyces root-rot of pea (Lincoln University) and a MSc (University of Canterbury) in soil microbiology. He conducted post-doctoral work at CSIRO (Adelaide) where he isolated strains of Penicillium fungi capable of mobilising phosphate from highly insoluble mineral (rock) sources.  These microorganisms have been patented (WO/2010/037167) for commercial use as microbial products to increase P availability in agricultural soils. 

Much of Steve’s work involves the application of molecular (DNA / RNA) methods to detect and measure soil microbiota at both phylogenetic and functional levels. These include application of microarrays (PhyloChip; GeoChip), quantitative PCR, next generation sequencing, and so forth. Using integrative approaches (e.g. stable isotope probing), species and functions linked to key soil processes such as disease suppression and nutrient cycling can be measured. 

Recent publications 

Wakelin, S.A., Nelson, P.N., Armour, J.D., Rasiah, V. and Colloff, M.J. (2011). Bacterial community structure and denitrifier (nir-gene) abundance in soil water and groundwater beneath agricultural land in tropical north Queensland, Australia. Soil Science (49): 65-76.

Wakelin, S.A., Gregg, A.L., Simpson, R.J., Li, G.D., Riley, I.T. and McKay, A.C. (2009). Pasture management clearly affects soil microbial community structure and N-cycling bacteria. Pedobiologia (52): 237-251.

Wakelin, S.A., Macdonald, L.M., Rogers, S.L., Gregg, A.L., Bolger, T.P. and Baldock, J.A. (2008). Habitat selective factors influencing the structural composition and functional capacity of microbial communities in agricultural soils. Soil Biology and Biochemistry (40): 803-813.

For more publications, see