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K-State Today

March 30, 2023

Leda Kobziar to present Division of Biology Seminar

Submitted by Division of Biology

Leda Kobziar, associate professor of wildland fire science at the University of Idaho, will present "Wildfires and Prescribed Fire Smoke is a Dispersal Agent for Microbial Life" as part of the Division of Biology Seminar Series at 3:30 p.m. Monday, April 3, in 221 Ackert Hall.

Wildland fire is a major global driver in the exchange of aerosols between the biosphere and the atmosphere. Kobziar's recent work has shown that viable microbes comprise a portion of the overall particulate aerosol exchange driven by fires in the earth system- a component that has not been researched previously. Using both field measurements from uncrewed aerial systems — i.e. drones — flying over wildland fires and controlled laboratory experiments across the U.S., Kobziar's lab demonstrates the application of new methodology to characterize the microbial smoke transport phenomenon, including microbial emission factors, diversity, inoculation of soils with smoke microbes, and source tracking microbes from burning vegetation to smoke. For example, in one national forest in Utah, the lab's findings suggest that wildfires in subalpine fir forests emit an estimated 1.09e17 microbes, or 9.8 metric tons of microbial biomass each year.

To demonstrate the application of smoke transport modeling systems to the microbial emission factors derived, the lab applies a scalable and adaptive Lagrangian particle transport model which shows that a very small percent of the emitted cells are deposited within ~20 km of a burn, with the remainder transported downwind. These results and methodology can serve as a foundation for future work to determine how wildland fire impacts the bioaerosol atmosphere-biosphere exchange budget and local to global microbial emissions inventories and to explore the implications for both atmospheric and terrestrial processes and biological diversity.

If you would like to visit with Kobziar, please contact Sidney Noble at snoble@k-state.edu