Picture of Sina Adl

Sina Adl Professor

5D20 - Agriculture Building

Research Area(s)

  • Soil biology
  • Protist diversity and systematics
  • Soil micro-invertebrates
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Food webs
  • Community structure
  • Microbial ecology


Soil Science

Research Interests

Recent work included following nutrient paths through soil food webs using the stable isotopes 15N and 13C. We have recently worked on a variety of other aspects of soil ecology and field management. These include long term effects of field management on soil biology and nutrients; and soil amendments (composted municipal solid waste, manure, biosolids, biochar); organic agriculture and no-tillage.  We have worked with a variety of soil samples from the sub-arctic, to grasslands, desert crusts, temperate to tropical forests, agricultural fields, and with micro-fossils in amber. We rely on sampling commercial agricultural fields and forest plantations, experimental field sites, greenhouse seedling experiments, and microcosms.  We have obtained soil samples from several South American tropical forests, grasslands and agricultural sites in Saskatchewan prairies, Northern Alberta boreal forest, NE China agricultural – grassland - forests, Mongolia grasslands and Gobi desert transect, Thailand tropical forests, and a Japan north-south forest transect, for a global soil eukaryote biodiversity study.  

Ongoing and new research projects include the following:

Rhizosphere ecology and soil nutrient availability to roots. We are continuing our rhizosphere food web manipulations to look for effects on specific nutrient uptake by roots. We use Arabidopsis mutants, wheat and canola commercial varieties in controlled laboratory studies for spectroscopic and genomic analysis.

Root-soil nutrient uptake and exudate release. We obtained funds for a new Phyto-PET scanner at the cyclotron to follow 11N into plants and out of roots into soil. These studies will be extended to other metabolites and nutrients.

No-tillage agriculture nitrogen fixation. After several decades of no-tillage agriculture, has free-living nitrogen fixation returned to our agricultural soils? We use identified commercial fields for in-lab 15N tracer studies and genomic assay of bacteria functional communities.

Scaling-up pulse innovations for food and nutrition security in southern Ethiopia. Since 1997 this project has continued to grow in scope and impact through a continuous turnover of researchers. The project provides a second annual crop of modern locally developed legume varieties, to improve household income and nutrition. At this stage we are transferring our project to the regional government authorities to expand our farm outreach and education; and our nutrition outreach and education to mothers and woman-led households.

Designing crops for Global Food Security. This is a large interdisciplinary project that aims to rejuvenate and modernise research in crop development [ http://www.cfref-apogee.gc.ca/results-resultats/abstracts-resumes/University_of_Saskatchewan-eng.aspx  ]. It is held and managed through the Global Institute for Food Security [ http://gifs.ca/ ].

Selected Publications

Stefan Geisen, Edward A. D. Mitchell, Sina Adl, Michael Bonkowski, Micah Dunthorn, Flemming Ekelund, Leonardo D. Fernández, Alexandre Jousset, Valentyna Krashevska, David Singer, Frederick W. Spiegel, Julia Walochnik and Enrique Lara. 2018. Soil protists: a fertile frontier in soil biology research, FEMS Microbiology Reviews 42 (3): 293–323.

Sina M. Adl, David Bass, Christopher E. Lane, Julius Lukeš, Conrad L. Schoch, Alexey Smirnov, Sabine Agatha, Cedric Berney, Matthew W. Brown, Fabien Burki, Paco Cárdenas, Ivan Čepička, Ludmila Chistyakova, Javier del Campo, Micah Dunthorn, Bente Edvardsen, Yana Eglit, Laure Guillou, Vladimír Hampl, Aaron A. Heiss, Mona Hoppenrath, Timothy Y. James, Anna Karnkowska, Sergey Karpov, Eunsoo Kim, Martin Kolisko, Alexander Kudryavtsev, Daniel J. G. Lahr, Enrique Lara, Line Le Gall, Denis H. Lynn, David G. Mann, Ramon Massana, Edward A. D. Mitchell , Christine Morrow, Jong Soo Park, Jan W. Pawlowski, Martha J. Powell, Daniel J. Richter, Sonja Rueckert, Lora Shadwick, Satoshi Shimano, Alastair G. B. Simpson, Frederick W. Spiegel, Guifré Torruella, Noha Youssef, Vasily Zlatogursky, Qianqian Zhang. 2019. Revisions to the classification, nomenclature, and diversity of eukaryotes. Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology 66 (1):1-117.

Adl, M.S. and Mathison, B.A. 2019. Taxonomy and classification of human eukaryotic parasites. In: Manual of Clinical Microbiology, 12th edn. American Society of Microbiologists. Chapter 135, 2379-2388. (Revised by a collaborative, international, interdisciplinary team of editors and authors, this edition includes the latest applications of genomics and proteomics and is filled with current findings regarding infectious agents, leading-edge diagnostic methods, laboratory practices, and safety guidelines. This seminal reference continues to set the standard for state-of-the-science laboratory practice as the most authoritative reference in the field of microbiology).

Rohan Pethiyagoda, K. Divakaran Prathapan, Kamaljit S. Bawa, Peter H. Raven, Priyadarsanan Dharma Rajan, and 172 coauthors from 36 countries. 2018. The implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity is hampering scientific research and conservation. Science 360 (6390): 1405-1406.

Sun, D., Hale, L., Kar, G., Soolanayakanahally, R., and Adl, S.  2018.  Phosphorus recovery and reuse by pyrolysis: Applications for agriculture and environment. Chemosphere, 194: 682-691. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2017.12.035 

Geisen, S., Mitchell, E.A.D., Wilkinson, D.M., Adl, S., Bonkowski, M., Brown, M.W., Fiore-Donno, A.M., Heger, T.J., Jassey, V.E.J., Krashevska, V., Lahr, D.J.G., Marcisz, K., Mulot, M., Payne, R., Singer, D., Anderson, O.R., Charman, D.J., Ekelund, F., Griffiths, B., Rønn, R., Smirnov, A., Bass, D., Belbahri, L., Berney, C., Blandenier, Q., Chatzinotas, A., Clarholm, M., Dunthorn, M., Feest, A., Fernández, L.D., Foissner, W., Fournier, B., Gentekaki, E., Hájek, M., Helder, J., Jousset, A., Koller, R., Kumar, S., La Terza, A., Lamentowicz, M., Mazei, Y., Santos, S.S., Seppey, C.V.W., Spiegel, F.W., Walochnik J., Winding, A., and Lara, E.  2017.  Soil protistology rebooted: 30 fundamental questions to start with.  Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 111: 94-103. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2017.04.001 

Adl, S.M., Habura, A., and Eglit, Y.  2014.  Amplification primers of SSU rDNA for soil protists.  Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 69: 328-342. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2013.10.024 

Crotty, F.V., Adl, S.M., Blackshaw, R.P., Inger, R., and Murray, P.  2014.  Divergence of feeding channels within the soil food web determined by ecosystem type. Ecology and Evolution, 4(1): 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.905

Adl, S.M., Habura, A., and Eglit, Y.  2014.  Review: Amplification primers of SSU rDNA for soil protists. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 69: 328-342. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2013.10.024


Frouz, J., Thébault, E., Pižl, V., Adl, S., Cajthaml, T., Baldrián, P., Háněl, L., Starý, J., Tajovský, K., Materna, J., Nováková, A., and de Ruiter, P.C.  2013.  Soil food web changes during spontaneous succession at post mining sites: A possible ecosystem engineering effect on food web organization?  PLoS ONE, 8(11): e79694.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0079694

Pawlowski, J., Adl, S., Audic, S., Bass, D., Belbahri, L., Berney, C., Bowser, S.S., Cepicka, I., Decelle, J., Dunthorn, M., Fiore-Donno, A.M., Gile, G.H., Holzmann, M., Jahn, R., Jirků, M., Keeling, P., Kostka, M., Kudryavtsev, A., Lara, E., Lukeš, J., Mann, D.G., Mitchell, E.A.D., Nitsche, F., Romeralo, M., Saunders, G.W., Simpson, A.G.B., Smirnov, A.V., Spouge, J., Stern, R.F., Stoeck, T., Zimmermann, J., Schindel, D., and de Vargas, C.  2012.  CBOL Protist Working Group: Barcoding eukaryotic richness beyond the animal, plant and fungal kingdoms. PloS Biology, 10(11): e1001419. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1001419