Jonathan W Leff

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For centuries ecologists have studied how the diversity and functional traits of plant and animal communities vary across biomes. In contrast, we have only just begun exploring similar questions for soil microbial communities despite soil microbes being the dominant engines of biogeochemical cycles and a major pool of living biomass in terrestrial(More)
Most of our time is spent indoors where we are exposed to a wide array of different microorganisms living on surfaces and in the air of our homes. Despite their ubiquity and abundance, we have a limited understanding of the microbial diversity found within homes and how the composition and diversity of microbial communities change across different locations(More)
Soil microorganisms are critical to ecosystem functioning and the maintenance of soil fertility. However, despite global increases in the inputs of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) to ecosystems due to human activities, we lack a predictive understanding of how microbial communities respond to elevated nutrient inputs across environmental gradients. Here we(More)
We spend the majority of our lives indoors; yet, we currently lack a comprehensive understanding of how the microbial communities found in homes vary across broad geographical regions and what factors are most important in shaping the types of microorganisms found inside homes. Here, we investigated the fungal and bacterial communities found in settled dust(More)
Bacteria readily colonize kitchen surfaces, and the exchange of microbes between humans and the kitchen environment can impact human health. However, we have a limited understanding of the overall diversity of these communities, how they differ across surfaces and sources of bacteria to kitchen surfaces. Here we used high-throughput sequencing of the 16S(More)
It has been known for centuries that microorganisms are ubiquitous in the atmosphere, where they are capable of long-distance dispersal. Likewise, it is well-established that these airborne bacteria and fungi can have myriad effects on human health, as well as the health of plants and livestock. However, we have a limited understanding of how these airborne(More)
Extracellular DNA from dead microorganisms can persist in soil for weeks to years1-3. Although it is implicitly assumed that the microbial DNA recovered from soil predominantly represents intact cells, it is unclear how extracellular DNA affects molecular analyses of microbial diversity. We examined a wide range of soils using viability PCR based on the(More)
Identifying the traits that determine spatial distributions can be challenging when studying organisms, like bacteria, for which phenotypic information is limited or non-existent. However, genomic data provide another means to infer traits and determine the ecological attributes that account for differences in distributions. We determined the spatial(More)
In urban environments, green roofs provide a number of benefits, including decreased urban heat island effects and reduced energy costs for buildings. However, little research has been done on the non-plant biota associated with green roofs, which likely affect their functionality. For the current study, we evaluated whether or not green roofs planted with(More)
Plant-associated microorganisms affect the health of their hosts in diverse ways, yet the distribution of these organisms within individual plants remains poorly understood. To address this knowledge gap, we assessed the spatial variability in bacterial community diversity and composition found on and in aboveground tissues of individual Ginkgo biloba(More)