Faculty profile headshot photo of Sue Grayston

Sue Grayston

Professor of Soil Microbial Ecology
Applied Biology Program Director

Forest Sciences Centre 3006
2424 Main Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4

work phone: 604-822-5928

Areas of research include:

  • Microbial diversity and function in soils
  • Plant-microbe interactions
  • Rhizodeposition
  • Climate change and soil C sequestration
  • Soil microbial community structure and function related to GHG emissions


Canada Research Chair in Soil Microbial Ecology


Plant-microbe interactions in forest soils

NSERC Discovery

Herbivore-mediated aboveground-belowground trophic cascades

France-Canada Research Fund
MITACS Globalink

Assessing arbuscular mycorrhizal inoculum and deer repellant as tools to enhance western redcedar survival on Haida Gwaii

NSERC Engage

Evaluation of fertilization to accelerate western redcedar growth, enhance soil carbon stocks and decrease greenhouse gas emissions on Haida Gwaii

MFLNRORD Forest Carbon Initiative


UBC Killam Faculty Research Fellowship 2010
Canada Research Chair in Soil Microbial Ecology 2003
Canada Research Chair in Soil Microbial Ecology 2008
Erskine Fellow, University of Canterbury, New Zealand 2005
Peter Wall Early Career Scholar 2004Royal Society Fellowship 2003
Quarry Life Award 2014
University of Natural Resources & Life Sciences Vienna Guest Professorship 2017
UBC Great Graduate Advisor 2018

Selected Publications

Modi D, Simard S, Bérubé J, Lavkulich L, Hamelin R, Grayston SJ. (2020). Long-term effects of stump removal and tree species composition on the diversity and structure of soil fungal communities. FEMS Microbiology Ecology
Prescott CE, Frouz J, Grayston SJ, Quideau, SA, Straker J (2019). Rehabilitating forest soils after disturbance. In: Developments in Soil Science Volume 36. Global Change and Forest Soils, (Eds. Busse M, Giardini C, Morris D & Page-Dumroese D). Elsevier. Chapter 13. Pg. 309-343.
Chollet S, Maillard M, Schorghuber J, Grayston SJ, Martin JL. (2019). Large herbivores control litter decomposition in temperate forests. Peer Community In Ecology 10.1101/690032, bioRxiv, 690032, ver. 3.
Godin A, Brooks D, Grayston SJ, Jones MD. (2019). Ectomycorrhizal and saprotrophic fungal communities differ within millimeter-scale soil microsites that differ in phosphatase activity. Pedosphere 29, 344-359.
Philpott TJ, Barker J Prescott CE, Grayston SJ (2018). Limited effects of variable-retention harvesting on fungal communities decomposing fine-roots in coastal temperate rainforests. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 84 UNSP e02061-17.
Anderson J, Grayston SJ, Prescott CE (2018). Organic matter accumulation in reclaimed soils under spruce, poplar and grass in the Alberta Oil Sands. New Forests doi.org/10.1007/s11056-018-9646-4
Ribbons RR, Kepfer-Rojas S, Kosawang C, Hansen OK, Ambus P, MacDonald M, Grayston SJ, Prescott CE, Vesterdal L (2018). Context-dependent tree species effects on soil nitrogen transformations and related microbial functional genes Biogeochemistry 140, 145-160.
Philpott TJ, Barker J, Prescott CE, Grayston SJ. (2018). Retention trees slow post-harvest fine-root decomposition in a coastal temperate rainforest. Forest Ecology & Management 430, 431-444.
Marin M, Grayston S. (2018). Biological control of nematodes by Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria: secondary metabolites involved and potential application In: Secondary Metabolites of Plant Growth Promoting Rhizomicroorganisms - Discovery and Applications. Edited by H.B. Singh, Ch. Keswani, M.S. Reddy.: 1-18. In Press, Springer Nature, Singapore Pte Ltd.
Christiansen JR, Levy-Booth DJ, Prescott CE, Grayston SJ. (2017). Different soil moisture control of net methane oxidation and production in organic upland and wet forest soils of the Pacific coastal rainforest in Canada. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 47, 628-635.
Barker J, Christiansen JR, Grayston SJ. (2017). Indirect microbial effects on methane flux are stronger when the environmental influence is weaker in a temperate forest ecosystem. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 105, 92-95.
Masse, J, Prescott CE, Renaut S, Terrat Y, Grayston SJ. (2017). Plant community and nitrogen deposition as drivers of α- and β-prokaryotic diversity in reconstructed soils and in natural boreal-forest soils. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 83 UNSP e03319-16.
Neufeld KRS, Grayston SJ, Bittman S, Krzic M, Hunt DE, Smukler SM (2017). Long-term alternative dairy manure management approaches enhance microbial biomass and activity in perennial forage grass. Biology and Fertility of Soils 53, 613-626.
Levy-Booth D, Prescott CE, Grayston SJ. (2016). Site preparation and fertilization of wet forests alter soil bacterial and fungal abundance, community profiles and CO2 fluxes. Forest Ecology & Management 375, 159-171.
Deslippe JR, Hartmann M, Grayston SJ, Simard SW, Mohn WW. (2016). Stable isotope probing implicates a species of Cortinarius in carbon transfer through ectomycorrhizal fungal mycelial networks in Arctic tundra. New Phytologist 210(2): 383-390.
Ribbons RR, Levy-Booth DJ, Masse J, Grayston SJ, McDonald MA, Vesterdal L, Prescott CE (2016). Linking microbial communities, functional genes and nitrogen-cycling processes in forest floors under four tree species. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 103, 181-191.
Masse J, Prescott CE, Muller C. Grayston SJ. (2016). Gross nitrogen transformation rates differ in reconstructed oil-sand soils from natural boreal forest soils as revealed using a 15N tracing method. Geoderma 282, 37-48.
Christiansen JR, Levy-Booth DJ, Prescott CE, Grayston SJ. (2016). Microbial and environmental controls of carbon dioxide and methane fluxes in three forest types along a soil moisture gradient in a Pacific coastal temperate rainforest. Ecosystems 19, 1255-1270.
Masse, J., Churchland C. and Grayston S.J. (2015). Soil Biology in the AOSR using Phospholipid Fatty Acid Analysis. In: Clair, T.A. and K.E. Percy (editors) 2015. Assessing forest health in the Alberta Oil Sands Region. WBEA Tech,. Rep. 2015-03-01, pp 93-106.
Lozano E, Grayston SJ (2015). Effects of water repellency on microbial community structure and function in Mediterranean pine forests. Abstracts EGU General Assembly, Vienna, Austria, April 2015.
Masse J, Grayston SJ (2015). Microbial communities and nitrogen cycling in reclaimed oil-sand soils. Abstracts CSSS Joint Meeting, Montreal, QC, July 2015.
Ribbons RR, Grayston SJ, McDonald MA, Vesterdal L and Prescott CE (2015). Microbial communities, functional genes and nitrogen cycling processes in forest floors under four tree species. Abstracts Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Baltimore, MD, USA, August 2015.
Masse J, Grayston SJ (2015). Nitrogen cycling microbial communities in the Alberta Oil Sands Abstracts European Soils Congress, Wageningen, Netherlands, August 2015.
Ribbons RR, Grayston SJ, McDonald MA, Vesterdal L and Prescott CE (2015). Microbial community structure and function under different tree species in a common garden experiment Abstracts 5th International Congress on Soil Organic Matter, Gottingen, Germany, September 2015.
Levy-Booth D, Grayston SJ (2015). Links between CH4 and N2O production and microbial communities following fertilization, mounding and drainage of wet forests. Abstracts 2nd Ecology of Soil Microorganisms Conference, Prague, Czech Republic, December 2015.
Philpott TJ, Prescott CE, Lindahl B, and Grayston SJ (2015). Identifying the role of mycorrhizal vs saprophytic fungi in decomposition in forest soils using next generation sequencing. Abstracts 2nd Ecology of Soil Microorganisms Conference, Prague, Czech Republic, December 2015.
Philpott TJ, Prescott CE, Chapman WK, Grayston SJ (2014). Nitrogen translocation and accumulation by a cord-forming fungus (Hypholoma fasciculare) into simulated woody debris. Forest Ecology and Management 315, 121-128.
Levy-Booth, Prescott CE, Grayston SJ (2014). Microbial functional genes involved in nitrogen fixation, nitrification and denitrification in forest ecosystems. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 75, 11-25.
Bradford MA, Wood SA, Bardgett RD, Black HIJ, Bonkowski M, Eggers T, Grayston SJ, Kandeler E, Manning P, Setala H, Jones, TH (2014). Discontinuity in the responses of ecosystem processes and multifunctionality to altered soil community composition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111, 14478-14483.
Bradford MA, Wood SA, Bardgett RD, Black HIJ, Bonkowski M, Eggers T, Grayston SJ, Kandeler E, Manning P, Setala H, Jones, TH (2014). Reply to Byrnes et al.: Aggregation can obscure understanding of ecosystem multifunctionality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111, E5491-E5491.
Whalen JK, Gul S, Poirier V, Yanni SF, Simpson MJ, Clemente JS, Feng X, Grayston SJ, Barker J, Gregorich EG, Angers DA, Rochette P, Janzen HH. (2014). Transforming plant carbon into soil carbon: process-level controls on carbon sequestration Canadian Journal of Plant Science Special Issue: Green Crop Network 94, 1065-1073.
Churchland C and Grayston SJ (2014). Specificity of plant-microbe interactions in the tree mycorrhizosphere biome and consequences for soil C cycling. Frontiers in Microbiology 5, 261. Special Issue on “The Microbial Regulation of Global Biogeochemical Cycles” hosted by Dr(s) Johannes Rousk, Per Bengtson from the BECC (Biodiversity & Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate)(Universities of Gothenburg and Lund, Sweden) Symposium on Microbial Regulation of Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Hoor, Sweden, August 2012.
Churchland C, Grayston SJ, Bengtson P. (2013). Spatial variability of soil fungal and bacterial abundance: Consequences for carbon turnover along a transition from a forested to clear-cut site. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 63, 5-13.
Suzuki Y, Grayston SJ, Prescott CE. (2013). Effects of leaf litter consumption by millipedes (Harpaphe haydeniana) on subsequent decomposition depends on litter type Soil Biology & Biochemistry 57, 116-123.
Brooks DD, Tweig BD, Grayston SJ, Jones MD (2013). Physical extent, frequency, and intensity of phosphatase activity varies on soil profiles across a Douglas-fir chronosequence Soil Biology & Biochemistry 64, 1-8.
Anand, R., Grayston, S. and C.P. Chanway (2013). N2-fixation and seedling growth promotion of lodgepole pine by endophytic Paenibacillus polymyxa Microbial Ecology 66:369-374. doi: 10.1007/s00248-013-0196-1
Prescott CE and Grayston SJ (2013). Tree species influence on microbial communities in litter and soil: current knowledge and research needs. Forest Ecology and Management 309, 19-27. Special Issue from Eurosoil Session S10.3. ‘Influences of Tree Species on Forest Soils’, 2012, Bari, Italy.
Quideau S, Swallow MJB, Prescott CE, Grayston SJ, Oh SW. (2013). Comparing soil biogeochemical processes in novel and natural boreal forest ecosystems. Biogeochemistry 10, 5651-5661. Special Issue on Ecosystems in transition: interaction and feedbacks with an emphasis on the initial development.
Wertz S, Leigh AKK, Grayston SJ (2012). Effects of long term fertilization of forest soils on potential nitrification and on the abundance and community structure of ammonia-oxidizers and nitrite-oxidizers. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 79, 142-154.
Brockett BFT, Prescott CE, Grayston SJ. (2012). Soil moisture is the major factor influencing microbial community structure and enzyme activities across seven biogeoclimatic zones in western Canada. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 44, 9-20.
Churchland C, Weatherall A, Briones MJI, Grayston SJ (2012). Stable- isotope-labelling and probing of recent photosynthates into respired CO2, soil microbes and soil mesofauna using a xylem and phloem stem-injection technique on Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 26, 2493-2501.
Gul S, Whalen, JK, Ellis BE, Grayston SJ. (2012). Plant residue chemistry impacts mineral nitrogen concentration, microbial biomass and microbial community structure: A study with Arabidopsis thaliana cell wall mutants. Applied Soil Ecology 60, 84-91.
Bengtson P, Barker J, Grayston SJ. (2012). Evidence of a strong coupling between root exudation, C and N availability, and stimulated SOM decomposition caused by rhizosphere priming effects. Ecology & Evolution 2, 1843-1852.
Switzer J, Hope G, Grayston SJ, Prescott CE. (2012). Changes in soil chemical and biological properties after thinning and prescribed fire for ecosystem restoration in Rocky Mountain forests. Forest Ecology & Management 275, 1-13.
Brooks DD, Chan R, Starks E, Grayston SJ, Jones MD (2011). Ectomycorrhizal hyphae structure components of the soil bacterial community for decreased phosphatase production. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 76, 245-255.
Dimitriu PA, Lee D, Grayston SJ. (2010). An evaluation of the functional significance of peat microorganisms using a reciprocal transplant approach. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 42, 65-71.
Dimitriu PA and Grayston SJ (2010). Relationship between soil properties and patterns of bacterial ß-diversity across boreal forest soils of differing fertility. Microbial Ecology 59, 563-573.
Dimitriu PA, Prescott CE, Quideau SA, Grayston SJ. (2010). Impact of reclamation of surface-mined boreal forest soils on microbial community composition and function. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 42, 2289-2297.
Bengtson P, Basiliko N, Dumont M, Roy R, Hills M, Murrell JC, Grayston SJ. (2009). Links between methanotroph community composition and CH4 oxidation in a pine forest soil. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 70, 356-366.
Rowland SM, Prescott CE, Grayston SJ, Quideau SA, Bradfield G. (2009). Recreating a functioning forest soil in reclaimed oil sands in northern Alberta: an approach for measuring success in ecological restoration. Journal of Environmental Quality 38, 1580-1590.
Basiliko N, Khan A, Roy R, Prescott CE, Grayston SJ. (2009). Greenhouse gas and nutrient dynamics in recently fertilized western Canadian plantation forest soils. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 39, 1220-1235.
A.K. Patra, X. Le Roux, S.J. Grayston, P. Loiseau, F. Louault (2008). Unraveling the effects of management regime and plant species on soil organic carbon and microbial phospholipid fatty acid profiles in grassland soils Bioresource Technology 99, 3545-3551.
Grayston SJ and Prescott CE (2007). Towards sustainable forestry - The living soil: Soil biodiversity and ecosystem function – Foreword to Special Issue. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 37 (2), V-VI.
Grayston S.J. (2007). Effects of forest fertilization on soil C sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions. In: Jandl R.; Olsson M., eds. Greenhouse-gas budget of soils under changing climate and land use (BurnOut). Proceedings of the European Science Foundation Cost Action 639 Workshop, Vienna, Austria, April 2007. Federal Research and Training Centre for Forests, Natural Hazards and Landscape (BFW) Vienna, Austria. 110p. pp. 33-38. (ISBN: 978-3-901347-70-2).
Bradford MA, Black HIJ, Cook R, Eggers T, Garnett MH, Grayston SJ, Hutcheson KA, Ineson P, Jones TH, Newington JE, Ostle N, Sleep D, Stott A and Tordoff GM (2007). Carbon dynamics in a model grassland with functionally different soil communities. Functional Ecology 21, 690-697.
Treonis AM, Cook R, Dawson L, Grayston SJ, and Mizen T. (2007). Effects of a plant parasitic nematode Heterodera trifolii on clover roots and soil microbial communities. Biology and Fertility of Soils 43, 541-548.
Dong S, Brooks D, Jones MD and Grayston SJ. (2007). A method for linking in situ activities of hydrolytic enzymes to associated organisms in forest soil. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 39, 2414-2419.
Bengtson P, Basiliko N, Prescott CE, Grayston SJ (2007). Spatial dependency of soil nutrient availability and microbial properties in a mixed forest of Tsuga heterophylla and Pseudotsuga menziesii, in coastal British Columbia, Canada. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 39, 2429-2435.
Manning P, Newington JN, Robson HR, Saunders MA, Bradford MA, Eggers T, Ellis RJ, Gange AC, Marhan S, Kandeler E, Tscherko D, Reid E, Grayston SJ, Bonkowski M, Bardgett RD, Godfray CHJ and Rees M (2006). Decoupling the direct and indirect effects of nitrogen deposition on ecosystem function. Ecology Letters 9, 1015-1024.
Grayston SJ and Rennenberg H (2006). Assessing effects of forest management on soil microbial communities in a Central European beech forest. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 36, 2595-2604.
Patra AK, Clays-Josserand A, Degrange V, Grayston SJ, Guillaumaud N, Loiseau P, Louault F, Mahmood S, Nazaret S, Philippot L, Poly F, J.I. Prosser JI and Le Roux X (2006). Effects of management regime and plant species on the enzyme activity and genetic structure of N-fixing, denitrifying and nitrifying bacterial communities in grassland soils. Environmental Microbiology 8, 1005-1016.
Murray PJ, Cook R, Currie AF, Dawson LA, Gange AC, Grayston SJ, and Treonis AM (2006). Interactions between plants and the soil environment: implications for soil faunal structure and diversity. Applied Soil Ecology 33, 199-207.
Ross DJ, Grayston SJ and Whitehead D (2006). Changes in soil carbon and nitrogen properties and microbial communities in relation to growth of Pinus radiata and Nothofagus fusca trees after 6 years at ambient and elevated CO2. Global Change Biology 12, 1690-1706.
Grayston SJ, Addison JA, Berch SM, DeMontigny LE, Durall DM, Egger KN, Jones MD, Modesto R, Mohn WW, Panesar TS, Prescott CE and Srivastava DS (2006). Green tree retention: A tool to maintain soil function after harvest. BC Journal of Ecosystems and Management 7, 9-12.
Patra AK, Abbadie L, Clays-Josserand A, Degrange V, Grayston SJ, Loiseau P, Louault F, Mahmood S, Nazaret S, Philippot L, Poly F, Prosser JI, Richaume A and Le Roux X (2005). Effects of grazing on microbial functional groups involved in soil N dynamics Ecological Monographs 75, 65-80.
Treonis, A.M., Grayston, S.J., Murray, P.J., and L.A. Dawson. (2005). Effects of root feeding, cranefly larvae on soil microorganisms and the composition of rhizosphere solutions collected from grassland plants Applied Soil Ecology 28, 203-215.
Grayston, S.J. and C.E. Prescott (2005). Microbial communities in forest floors under four tree species in coastal British Columbia. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 37: 1157-1167
Treonis AM, Ostle NJ, Primrose R, Grayston SJ and Ineson P (2004). Identification of metabolically-active rhizosphere microbes by stable isotope probing of PLFAs. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 36, 533-537.
Leckie SE, Prescott CE, Grayston SJ, Neufeld JD and Mohn WW (2004). Characterisation of microbial communities in adjacent forest types that differ in nitrogen availability. Microbial Ecology, 48: 29-40
Ritz K, McNicol JW, Grayston SJ, Millard P, Atkinson D, Gollotte A, Habeshaw D, Boag B, Clegg CD, Griffiths BS, R.E. Wheatley RS, Glover LA, McCaig AE, and Prosser JI (2004). An evaluation of spatial variation in soil chemical and microbiological properties in an upland grassland. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 49, 191-205.
Dawson LA, Grayston SJ, Murray PJ, Ross JM, Reid EJ and Treonis AM (2004). Interactions between Agrostis capillaris, Trifolium repens and tipulid larvae and the impact on soil microbial communities Applied Soil Ecology 25, 51-61.
Grayston SJ, Campbell CD, Bardgett RD, Mawdsley JL, Clegg CD, Ritz K, Griffiths BS, Rodwell JS, Edwards SJ, Davies WJ, Elston DJ and Millard P (2004). Assessing shifts in microbial community structure across a range of grasslands differing in management intensity using CLPP, PLFA and community DNA techniques. Applied Soil Ecology 25, 63-84.
Leckie, S. C.E. Prescott and S.J. Grayston (2004). Forest floor microbial response to tree species and fertilization of regenerating coniferous forests. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 34: 1426-1435
Temperton VM, Grayston SJ, Jackson G, Millard P and Jarvis PG (2003). Effects of elevated carbon dioxide concentration on growth and nitrogen fixation in Alnus glutinosa in a long-term field experiment. Tree Physiology 23, 1051-1059.
Dawson LA, Grayston SJ, Murray PJ, Cook R, Gange AC, Ross JM, Pratt SM, Duff EI and Treonis AM (2003). Influence of pasture management (nitrogen and lime addition and insecticide treatment) on soil organisms and pasture root system dynamics in the field Plant and Soil 255, 121-130.
Williams BL, Dawson LA, Grayston SJ and Shand CA (2003). Impact of defoliation on the distribution of 15N from labelled synthetic sheep urine between tops and roots of Agrostis capillaris and soil N pools in a sward box experiment Plant and Soil 251, 269-278.
Bradford MA, Jones TH, Bardgett RD, Black H, Boag B, Bonkowski M, Cook R, Eggers T, Gange AC, Grayston SJ, Kandeler E, McCaig AE, Newington JE, Prosser JI, Setala H, Staddon PL, Tordoff GM, Tsherko D and Lawton JH (2002). Impacts of soil faunal functional composition on model grassland ecosystems Science 298, 615-619.
Dawson LA, Grayston SJ, Murray PJ and Pratt SM (2002). Root feeding behaviour of Tipula paludosa (Meig) (Diptera: Tipulidae) on Lolium perenne (L.) and Trifolium repens (L.). Soil Biology & Biochemistry 34, 609-615.
Murray PJ, Dawson LA and Grayston SJ (2002). Influence of root herbivory on growth response and carbon assimilation by white clover plants Applied Soil Ecology 20, 97-105.
Grayston SJ, McCaig, AE, Prosser JI and Glover LA (2001). Utilisation of novel biochemical and molecular methods to identify the key organic phosphorus mineralisers in soil Aspects of Applied Biology 63, 1-4.
Grayston SJ, Griffith GS, Mawdsley JL Campbell CD and Bardgett RD (2001). Accounting for variability in soil microbial communities of temperate upland grassland ecosystems Soil Biology & Biochemistry 33, 533-551.
Priha O, Grayston SJ, Hiukka R, Pennanen T and Smolander A (2001). Microbial community structure in soils under Pinus sylvestris, Picea abies and Betula pendula. Biology & Fertility of Soils 33, 17-24.
McCaig AE, Grayston SJ, Prosser JI and Glover LA (2001). Impact of cultivation on characterisation of species composition of soil bacterial communities FEMS Microbiology and Ecology 35, 37-48