Ziyang’s research focuses on tardigrades, which are a type of micrometazoan from marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments. Tardigrades are an essential component of soil biodiversity and play important roles in litter decomposition and nutrient cycling. They depend on the presence of water for activity but can survive drought in cryptobiosis and reach high abundances in soils that periodically dry out. The diet of tardigrades includes bacteria, detritus, fungi, algae, mosses, protists and other micrometazoan, while they may fall prey to nematodes, other tardigrades, oligochaetes, springtails, mites, spiders and insect larvae. However, the trophic level of tardigrades and their interactions with other soil organisms in typical Australian agroecosystems are poorly understood. In this research, conventional morphological identification, advanced stable isotope tracing technique, and state-of-the-art molecular approaches will be combined to renovate the understanding of the importance and function of tardigrades communities in agricultural soils. Ziyang will be working with researchers in Theme 3 on plant soil microbiomes.
Ziyang received a Bachelor degree in Agricultural Resources and Environment from Yangtze University and Master of Science degree in Environmental Sciences from Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, China. His Master’s program focused on the microbial process of nitrification in subtropical acidic soils. He combined DNA-based stable isotope probing technique and clone library, and identified that ammonia oxidizing archaea, rather than ammonia oxidizing bacteria and comammox Nitrospira, were playing active roles during the nitrification.