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Vidya Suseela

Assistant Professor
Soil Ecology
Plant and Environmental Sciences Department

Office: 114 Biosystems Research Complex
Personal Website:


 Educational Background

NSF Postdoctoral Fellow Biology-Physics Interface
Clemson University 2013-2015

Ph.D. Ecology
Purdue University 2012

MS Agronomy
Kerala Agricultural University 2003

 Courses Taught

PES 3150- Environment & Agriculture (Fall)
PES 4900/6900- Beneficial Soil Organisms in Plant Growth (Spring)

 Research Interests

I am a soil ecologist interested in the biogeochemical processes that shape the ecosystem responses to global environmental changes. My research strives to unravel the soil carbon cycling and root-rhizosphere interactions both in natural and agro-ecosystems, so as to enhance the resilience and sustainability of these systems.

The current research in the lab centers on the following broad themes:
SOIL CARBON CYCLING: We investigate the mechanisms that facilitate the formation and stabilization of soil organic matter in managed and unmanaged ecosystems that are mediated by chemical composition of plant inputs, microbial metabolism and soil mineralogy. In natural ecosystems we study the pathways through which plants create and maintain legacy effects so as to inform restoration practices. Focusing on conventional and low input agroecosystems, we investigate the effect of plant functional types on the quantity, composition and stabilization of soil carbon and the associated nutrient cycling for improving the soil health and productivity of agroecosystems.

ROOT-RHIZOSPHERE PROCESSES: We are interested in understanding the cross-talk between roots and associated microbiome in shaping the various rhizosphere processes that influence the resilience and productivity of ecosystems. Current projects include evaluating these interactions in conventional and low input agroecosystems.


Suseela V, Tharayil N. 2017. Decoupling the direct and indirect effects of climate on plant litter decomposition and terrestrial nutrient cycling. Global Change Biology (accepted).

Tamura M#, Suseela V#, Simpson M, Powell B and Tharayil N. 2017. Plant invasions alter the content and molecular identity of organic carbon associated with soil mineral and aggregate fractions. Global Change Biology; doi: 10.1111/gcb.13751; #Co-first authors).

Suseela V, Tharayil N, Pendall E and Rao A. 2017. Warming and elevated CO2 alter the suberin chemistry in roots of photosynthetically divergent grass species (In Press; AoB Plants; AoB Plants Editors’ Choice).

Carey JC, Tang J, Templer PH, Kroeger KD, Crowther TW, et al. 2016. Temperature response of soil respiration largely unaltered with experimental warming. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences doi: 10.1073/pnas.1605365113).

Suseela V, Alpert P, Nakatsu H C, Amstrong A and Tharayil N#. 2016. Plant–soil interactions regulate the identity of soil carbon in invaded ecosystems: implication for legacy effects. Functional Ecology 203: 110-124.

Suseela V, Tharayil N, Xing B and Dukes JS. 2015. Warming and drought differentially influence the resorption of elemental and metabolite nitrogen pools in Quercus rubra. Global Change Biology 21: 4177-4195.

Wang J, Tharayil N, Chow A, Suseela V, Zeng H. 2015. Phenolic profile within the fine root branching orders of an evergreen species highlights a disconnect in root tissue quality predicted by elemental- and molecular-level carbon composition. New Phytologist 206: 1261–1273 (New Phytologist Editors' choice)

Suseela V, Triebwasser D, Linsched N, Morgan, J and Tharayil N#. 2014. Litters of photosynthetically divergent grasses exhibit differential metabolic responses to warming and elevated CO2. Ecosphere, 5: article 106

Suseela V, Tharayil N, Xing B and Dukes J S. 2014. Warming alters potential enzyme activity but precipitation regulates chemical transformations in grass litter exposed to simulated climatic changes. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 75: 102-112.

Vicca S, Bahn M, Estiarte M, van Loon EE, Vargas R, et al. 2014. Can current moisture responses of soil respiration be extrapolated into the future? A synthesis of precipitation manipulation experiments. Biogeosciences Discussion, 11:853-899.

Suseela V, Tharayil N, Xing B and Dukes J S. 2013. Labile compounds in plant litter reduce the sensitivity of decomposition to warming and altered precipitation. New Phytologist, 200:122-133.

Suseela V, and Dukes J S. 2013. The responses of soil and rhizosphere respiration to simulated climatic changes vary by season. Ecology, 94: 403-413.

Auyeung D S N, Suseela V, and Dukes J S. 2012. Warming and drought reduce temperature sensitivity of nitrogen transformations. Global Change Biology 19: 662-672.

Suseela V, Conant R T, Wallenstein M D and Dukes J S. 2012. Effects of soil moisture on the temperature sensitivity of heterotrophic respiration vary seasonally in an old-field climate change experiment. Global Change Biology 18:336-348. ( identified as a ‘Highly Cited Paper –placed in top 1% of papers in the field of Environment/Ecology’ by Thomson Reuters.

Tharayil N, Suseela V, Triebwasser D, Preston C, Gerard P and Dukes JS. 2011. Changes in the structural composition and reactivity of Acer rubrum foliar-litter tannins exposed to warming and altered precipitation: climatic stress-induced tannins are more reactive. New Phytologist 191:132-145. Link to PDF.