The University of Sydney - Biogeochemistry Group

Dijkstra Laboratory 

Dijkstra Lab

Feike A. Dijkstra

I am a biogeochemist with interest in all aspects of plant-microbial interactions affecting carbon, nutrient, and water cycling in managed and unmanaged systems.


Bahareh Bicharanloo

I am interested in soil biogeochemistry and plant-soil interactions. My main expertise is in employing 18O,15N, and 13CO2 pulse and continuous labelling integrated with microbial techniques to examine the controls on plant carbon allocation to rhizodeposition, root respiration, and mycorrhizal association and the consequences for soil biogeochemistry in different plant-soil systems. I also investigate how carbon stabilisation in organic matter, decomposition and cycling are mediated by the quality and quantity of rhizodeposition and microbial use of rhizodeposits in different soil types varying in clay mineralogy.


Md. Rumainul Islam

I am a PhD research student and my research interests focus on understanding the effect of different root substrates on soil organic matter (SOM) decomposition and stabilization in various types of soil. I am mainly focussed on identifying the most sensitive and resistant organic matter (OM) pools, as well as seeking how SOM responses vary at different depths among soil types. I will also examine the root substrates effect on the formation of stable organo-mineral complexes in different soil depths. In general, a novel framework will be investigated to understand the management of root substrates on SOM to illustrate the relationship between carbon stability and mineralogy.

Hana Husain

Soil structure is an important factor for maintaining the functionality and sustainability of soil in the ecosystem. Soil structure can be defined by the stability of soil aggregates against physical, biological or land use changes, while destruction of soil aggregates exposes protected organic C within the soil aggregates leaving them vulnerable for microbial degradation.  Despite the role of soil structure in C sequestration, the interactions between plants and soil microbes (as major players in this process) are not well understood. I will investigate the role of soil microbes (bacteria and fungi) on soil structure and C dynamics, and in return how plants (wheat and barley) interact with these processes. I will use novel stable isotope techniques combined with pot studies in the controlled environment growth chamber facility in Camden.

Xing Yu

Large amounts of fertilizer are not taken up by crops and are lost from the soil causing negative impacts on the environment. Soil pH is an important factor influencing many nitrogen and phosphorus transformation processes in the soil. For my PhD I am interested in understanding how soil pH affects fertilizer use efficiencies of nitrogen and phosphorus. I will conduct growth chamber studies to examine nitrogen and phosphorus uptake and loss for different crops, and use simulation models to improve predictions about how fertilizer use efficiency is affected by soil pH, and different environmental and management factors.

Md. Zillur Rahman

Cereal-legume intercropping offers greater productivity per unit of land, complementarity in nitrogen (N) resource use, and potentially enhances litter input into the soil, hence promoting the build-up of organic matter and carbon (C) sequestration. Phosphorus (P) availability in the soil substantially affects plant-microbial interactions, thus influencing C and N dynamics. I will investigate the influence of P availability on litter input, mycorrhizal association, biological N fixation, root system architecture and C sequestration in a cereal-legume (field pea-wheat-chickpea) intercropping system. Additionally, I will conduct growth chamber studies to examine the role of P availability to gain insight into and enhance understanding of yield performances, root exudation, nodulation, and microbial decomposition under crop mixtures. I will use novel 13C isotope methods to assess components of soil respiration concurrently (i.e. root respiration, decomposition of rhizodeposit C, and decomposition of SOC).

Shirin Akter

Interspecific interactions take place under intercropping as both component crops share the same resources. One component crop may affect the environment in a positive way (facilitation) or it may even have a negative impact (competition). Although intercropping frequently results in a higher yield, particularly in cereal-legume combinations, drought may pose a negative impact on the overall performances of the component crops under the intercropping system. Relatively little information is available concerning how drought affects root systems, rhizo-deposits, yield, biological nitrogen fixation (BNF), and subsequent carbon sequestration under the cereal-legume intercropping system. I will conduct studies to explore the impact of drought on root plasticity, yield and overall BNF. Also, novel 13C isotope methods will be used to measure belowground carbon allocation.


Milad Bagheri

I am interested in greenhouse gas emission and the dynamics of soil carbon and nitrogen. My research focuses on how grazing affects greenhouse gas emission and net ecosystem exchange in grasslands. I examine the links between grazing and soil properties and their impacts on greenhouse gas emission. My research includes the development and deployment of several technologies and techniques (static and dynamic chamber techniques, sensors, stable isotope techniques, etc.), which help me to investigate the potential mechanisms involved in greenhouse gas emission in managed grasslands. Additionally, I run the TOC analyser, flow injection analyser, gas chromatograph, IRMS and Picarro analyser in the Biogeochemistry lab.


Mohammad Rahmat Ullah, PhD student 2019-2021 (website)

Ruzhen Wang, visiting scientist 2019-2020, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang, China (website)

Chunlian Qiao, visiting scientist 2019, Xinyang Normal University China (website)

Xiaoguang Wang, visiting scientist 2018-2019, Dalian University, Dalian, China (website)

Junmin Pei, visiting PhD student 2018-2019, Fudan University, Shanghai, China (website)

Kazi Mehnaz, PhD student 2015-2019 (website)

Jinfeng Yang, visiting scientist 2018-2019. Shenyang Agricultural University, Shenyang, China (website)

Jiayu Lu, visiting PhD student 2018-2019. Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang, China (website)

Paola Corneo, postdoc 2013-2018. Now postdoc at University of Trento, Italy (website).

Shiva Bakhshandeh, PhD student 2015-2018 (website).

Shamim Mia, PhD student 2015-2018. Now A/Prof at Patuakhali Science and Technology University, Bangladesh (website).

Liming Yin, visiting PhD student 2017. Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang, China (website).

Alberto Canarini, PhD student 2013-2016. Now postdoc at University of Vienna, Austria (website).

Pierre Mariotte, postdoc 2014-2016. Now Scientific Collaborator, Agroscope, Switzerland (website).

Hero Tahaei, research assistant 2012-2016. Now teaching assistant at The University of Sydney (website).

Mathilde Cassani, visiting MS student 2015. École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland.

Maggie Norton, research assistant 2015. Now at Iowa State University, USA.

Mingzhu He, visiting scientist 2013-2014. Shapotou Desert Research and Experiment Station, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, China (website).

Yolima Carrillo, postdoc 2011-2012. Now senior lecturer at Western Sydney University (website).