Skip to content
students walking into the pool and agriculture building
Clemson University
college of agriculture, forestry and life sciences clemson university

Vidya Suseela

Associate Professor of Soil Ecology
Plant and Environmental Sciences Department

Office: 114 Biosystems Research Complex

Personal Website:


Educational Background

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

Ph.D. Ecology
Purdue University 2012

M.Sc Agronomy
Kerala Agricultural University, India 2003

B.Sc Agriculture
Kerala Agricultural University, India 2000

Courses Taught

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

Lab members
Jasmine Gill (Ph.D. Student)
Sifat Sultana (Ph.D. student)
Chahat Garg (Ph.D. Student)
Mohit Goyal (Ph.D. Student)
Mengxue Xia (Postdoctoral researcher; co-advised with Nishanth Tharayil)

Kyungjin Min (Postdoctoral researcher-2018-2019; Currently postdoc at UC Merced)
Sukhmanpreet Kaur (Master'student-2018-2020; Currently Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech)
Ziliang Zhang (Postdoctoral Researcher-2018-2021; Currently postdoc at the University of Illinois)


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 in natural and agroecosystems to enhance the resilience and sustainability of these systems.


NSF CAREER Award-2023
Outstanding Junior Faculty in Research Award, College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences (CAFLS), Clemson University; 2022.

Research Interests

The current research in our 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.


* Corresponding author; † Postdoctoral Researcher; ‡ Graduate student

Zhang Z†*, Kaye JP, Bradley BA, Amsili JP, Suseela V*. Cover crop functional types differentially alter the content and composition of soil organic carbon in particulate and mineral-associated fractions. Global Change Biology (Accepted)

Zhang Z†, Jatana B, Campbell B, Gill J‡, Suseela V*, Tharayil N*. 2022. Cross inoculation of rhizobiome from a congeneric ruderal plant imparts drought tolerance in maize (Zea mays) through changes in root morphology and proteome. The Plant Journal, doi:10.1111/tpj.15775.

Kaur S‡, Campbell BJ, Suseela V*. Root Metabolome of plant-arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis mirrors the mutualistic or parasitic mycorrhizal phenotype. New Phytologist, doi:10.1111/nph.17994.

Zhang Z†*, Suseela V. 2021. Nitrogen availability modulates the impacts of plant invasion on the chemical composition of soil organic carbon. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 156,

Tamura M and Suseela V*. 2021. Warming and labile substrate addition alter enzyme activities and composition of soil organic carbon. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change,

Xia M, Valverde-Barrantes O, Suseela V, Blackwood C, Tharayil N. 2021. Coordination between compound-specific chemistry and morphology in roots aligns with ancestral mycorrhizal affinity in woody angiosperms. New Phytologist. doi: 10.1111/nph.17561.

Zhang Z†, Bhowmik P, Suseela V*. 2020. Effect of soil carbon amendments in reversing the legacy effect of plant invasion. Journal of Applied Ecology; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13757.

Kaur S‡ and Suseela V*. 2020. Unraveling Arbuscular Mycorrhiza-Induced Changes in Plant Primary and Secondary Metabolome. Metabolites; 10:8 (Invited Review).

Suseela V*, Tharayil N, Orr G, Hu D. 2020. Chemical plasticity in the fine root construct of Quercus spp. varies with root order and drought. New Phytologist, doi: 10.1111/NPH.16841.

Min K J† and Suseela V*. 2020. Plant invasion alters the Michaelis-Menten kinetics of microbial extracellular enzymes and soil organic matter chemistry along soil depth. Biogeochemistry;

Suseela V*, Tharayil N. 2018. Decoupling the direct and indirect effects of climate on plant litter decomposition and terrestrial nutrient cycling. Global Change Biology 24: 1428-1451

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.

College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences
College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences |