Rothamsted Research

where knowledge grows


Jennifer Dungait

Senior Research Scientist
North Wyke
North Wyke

Professor Jennifer Dungait is a Principal Research Scientist based at Rothamsted Research North Wyke where she leads the Soil Carbon Dynamics group, and she is a lead scientist on the BBSRC-funded North Wyke Farm Platform National Capability, and a member of the cross-institute Research Strategy Committee. Jennifer joined Rothamsted Research as a Senior Research Scientist in 2008, and spent 6 months as a Visiting Scholar at the Ohio State University, USA in 2012. She was previously a Research Associate in the School of Chemistry at the University of Bristol for 3 years.

Jennifer’s expertise is in biogeochemistry and soil science. She gained her first degree in Environmental Science at the University of London, followed by her MSc in Crop Protection at the Institute of Arable Crop Research at Long Ashton awarded by the University of Bath. Jennifer read for her PhD in Organic Geochemistry at the University of Bristol, which investigated the fate of cattle dung carbon in grassland soils using compound-specific stable isotope ratio mass spectrometry.

Jennifer's overall research objective is to develop a fully quantitative understanding of soil organic matter dynamics essential to inform the development of strategies to manage and improve soil quality by increasing soil carbon storage, and thereby to support the development of environmentally-benign agricultural systems in a changing climate. Her research has three major and inter-related themes:

  1. climate change mitigation through measurable increases in soil carbon (‘sequestration’);
  2. reducing soil carbon loss through improved management of soil organic matter in agricultural land; and,
  3. improving the livelihoods of farmers by realising the economic benefits of soil health, which is driven by soil organic matter.

Jennifer has active international research programs with CIAT in Kenya and Tanzania and Colombia, the University of Western Australia, the Chinese Agricultural University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. She provides expertise to the World University Network/Global Innovations Initiative ‘Global Farm Platforms for Sustainable Ruminant Livestock Production’, the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, and the China-UK Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Network (SAIN) ‘Low Carbon Farming’ project with the Chinese Academy of Science on soil organic matter management. She works with farmers and stakeholders in the UK developing strategies for increasing carbon stocks in soil to improve soil health and quality in agricultural systems and has received funding from the Westcountry Rivers Trust and AHDB Beef and Lamb.

Jennifer is a Visiting Professor of Sustainable Agriculture at the Royal Agricultural University where she lectures on biogeochemstry for the Environmental Technology module of the MSc in Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture. She is an Honorary Associate Professor at the University of Exeter in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, where she has active collaborations in Biosciences and Geography and coordinates the Sustainable Land-use in Grassland Agriculture module of the MSc in Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture, and lectures on Soil Organic Matter. She maintains strong links with the University of Bristol through joint studentships and the Food Security Land Research Alliance and the Global Farm Platoform. She is an invited lecturer at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden where she contributes to the 'Biogeochemistry and the Rhizosphere' PhD course.

Jennifer is an Associate Editor for two international soil science journals: 'European Journal of Soil Science' and 'Soil Research'. She is a panel member for NERC and EPSRC. She is Chair of the 6th International Symposium on Soil Organic Matter which will be held at Rothamsted Research from 3-8th September 2017.




+44 (0) 1837 883 500 ext: +44 1837 883534
Rothamsted Research - North Wyke, Okehampton, Devon, EX20 2SB
Past Projects
Project Leader
  • Relating fungal functional diversity to carbon-cycling in sub and maritime Antarctic soils
  • Compound specific stable isotope investigation of carbon inputs to rivers
  • Particulate organics analysis using stable isotope analysis from the Hampshire Avon demonstration test catchment
  • Quantifying the impacts of a reduction in beef and sheep farming on soil carbon storage
  • Processes and mechanisms of the interactions between grasslands and water
  • Soils for Sustainable Agriculture and Environment
  • SW DTP Studentship: The role of the decomposer community in nutrient dynamics over periods of managment change

52. Auffret M, Karhu K, Khachane A, Delgado-Baquerizo M, Dungait JAJ, Fraser F, Hopkins DW, Wookey PA, Singh BK, Freitag TE, Hartley IP, Prosser JI (accepted) The role of microbial community composition in controlling soil respiration responses to temperature. PLoS One

51. Wang R, Dungait JAJ, Buss S, Yang S, Zhang Y, Cai J, Xu Z, Zhang Y, Jiang Y (on-line) Base cation and micronutrient dynamics in soil aggregates under enhanced nitrogen and water inputs in semi-arid steppe grassland. Science of the Total Environment doi/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.09.018

50. Meng F, Dungait JAJ, Xu X, Zhang X, Wu W (on-line) Coupled incorporation of maize (Zea mays L.) straw with nitrogen fertilizer increased soil organic carbon in Fluvic Cambisol. Geoderma doi/10.1016/j.geoderma.2016.09.010

49. Williams JS, Dungait JAJ, Bol R, Abbott GD (on-line) Comparison of extraction efficiency for water-transportable phenols from different land uses. Organic Geochemistry 102, 45-51.

48. Gregory AS, Dungait JAJ, Watts CW, Bol R, Dixon ER, White RP, Whitmore AP (2016) Long-term management changes topsoil and subsoil organic carbon and nitrogen dynamics in a temperate agricultural system. European Journal of Soil Science 67, 421-430

47. Orr RJ, Murray PJ, Eyles CJ, Blackwell MSA, Cardenas LM, Collins AL, Dungait JAJ, Goulding KWT, Griffith BA, Gurr SJ, Harris P, Hawkins JMB, Misselbrook TH, Rawlings C, Shepherd A, Sint H, Takahashi T, Tozer KN, Whitmore AP, Wu L, Lee MRF (2016) The North Wyke Farm Platform: effect of temperate grassland farming systems on soil moisture contents, runoff and associated water quality dynamics. European Journal of Soil Science 67, 374-385.

46. Guttmann-Bond EB, Dungait JAJ, Brown A, Bull ID, Evershed RP (2016) Early Neolithic Agriculture in County Mayo, Republic of Ireland: Geoarchaeology of the Céide Fields, Belderrig, and Rathlackan Journal of North Atlantic Archaeology 30, 1-32.

45. Cisneros-Dozal LM, Xu X, Bryant C, Pearson EJ, Dungait JAJ (2016) Grass material as a modern process standard for 14C analysis of n-alkanes. Radiocarbon 58, 445-458.

44. Ferreira GWD, Soares EMB, Oliveira FCC, Silva IR, Dungait JAJ, Souza IF, Vergütz L (2016) Nutrient release from decomposing Eucalyptus harvest residues following simulated management practices in multiple sites in Brazil. Forest Ecology and Management 370, 1-11.

43. Cox F, Newsham KK, Bol R, Dungait JAJ, Robinson CH (2016) Not poles apart: Antarctic soil fungal communities show similarities to those of the distant Arctic. Ecology Letters 19, 528-536.

42. Horrocks CA, Heal KV, Cardenas LV, Tallowin J, Hervie B, Dungait JAJ (2016) Can species-rich grasslands be established on former intensively managed arable soils? Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 217, 59-67.

41. Lloyd CEM, Michaelides K, Chadwick DR, Dungait JAJ, Evershed RP (2016) Runoff- and erosion-driven transport of cattle slurry: linking molecular tracers to hydrological processes, Biogeosciences 13, 551-566.

40. Williams JS, Dungait JAJ, Bol R, Abbott GD (2016) Contrasting temperature responses of dissolved organic carbon and associated phenols leached from soils. Plant and Soil 399, 13-27.

39. Maestre FT, Escolar C, Bardgett R, Dungait JAJ, Gozalo B, Ochoa V (2015) Warming reduces biocrust cover and diversity and increases the physiological stress of soil microbial communities in a semi-arid Pinus halepensis plantation. Frontiers in Microbiology 6, 865.

38. Wang, R, Dungait JAJ, Creamer CA, Cai J, Xu Z, Zhang Y, Ma Y, Jiang Y (2015) Carbon and nitrogen dynamics in soil aggregates under long-term N and water addition in a temperate steppe grassland. Soil Science Society of America Journal 79, 527-535.

37. Beniston J, Shipitalo M, Lal R, Dayton E, DW Hopkins, Jones F, Joynes A, Dungait JAJ (2015) Carbon and macronutrient loss during accelerated erosion from different tillage and residue management systems. European Journal of Soil Science 66, 218-225.

36. Horrocks CA, Dungait JAJ, Heal KV, Cardenas LM (2015) Comparing N2O fluxes from recently created extensive grasslands and sites remaining under intensive agricultural management. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 199, 77-84.

35. Puttock A, Dungait JAJ, Bol R, Macleod CJA, Brazier RE (2014) Woody encroachment accelerates erosion of previously stable carbon pools from dryland soils. JGR Biogeosciences 119, 2345-2357.

34. Karhu K, Auffret M, Dungait JAJ, Hopkins DW, Prosser JI, Singh BK, Subke JA, Wookey PA, Ågren GI, Sebastià T, Gouriveau F, Bergkvist G, Meir P, Nottingham A, Hartley IP (2014) Temperature sensitivity of soil respiration rates enhanced by microbial community response. Nature 513, 81-84.

33. Collins AL, Williams LJ, Zhang YS, Marius M, Smith KA, Dungait JAJ, Smallman D, Dixon ER, Stringfellow A, Sear DA, Jones JI, Naden PS (2014) Sources of sediment-bound organic matter infiltrating spawning gravels across England and Wales during the incubation and emergence life stages of salmonids. Agrosystems Ecosystems Environment 196, 76-93.

32. Beniston J, Dupont ST, Glover JD, Lal R, Dungait JAJ (2014) Soil organic carbon dynamics 75 years after land use change in perennial grassland and annual wheat agricultural systems. Biogeochemistry 120:37-49.

31. Eisler MC, Lee MRF, Tarlton JF, Martin GB, Beddington J, Dungait JAJ, Greathead H, Liu J, Mathew S, Miller H, Misselbrook T, Murray P, Vinod VK, Van Saun R, Winter M (2014) Steps to sustainable livestock. Nature 50, 32-34.

30. Andresen LC, Dungait JAJ, Bol R, Selsted MB, Ambus P, Michelsen A (2014) Bacteria and fungi respond to multifactorial climate change at a temperate heathland, traced with 13C-glycine and FACE CO2. PLoSOne 9(1), e85070.

29. Horrocks CA, Dungait JAJ, Cardenas LM, Heal K (2014) Is extensification a viable alternative for enhanced provision of ecosystems services in UK agriculture? Land Use Policy 38, 123-128.

28. Norris CE, Dungait JAJ, Joynes A, Quideau SA (2013) Biomarkers of novel ecosystem development in boreal forest soils. Organic Geochemistry 64, 9-18.

27. Meng F, Dungait JAJ, Zhang X, He M, Guo Y, Wu W (2013) Investigation of photosynthate-C allocation 27 days after 13C-pulse labeling of Zea mays L. at different growth stages. Plant and Soil 373, 755-764.

26. Puttock A, Bol R, Macleod CJA, Sessford P, Dungait JAJ, Brazier RE (2013) Understanding changes in ecosystem structure, function and connectivity in semi-arid grass to woody vegetation transitions. Earth System Processes and Landforms 38, 1602-1611.

25. Dungait JAJ, Kemmit SJ, Michallon L, Guo S, Wen Q, Brookes PC, Evershed RP (2013) The variable response of soil microorganisms to trace concentrations of low molecular weight organic substrates of increasing complexity. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 64, 57-64.

24. Collins AL, Williams LJ, Zhang YS, Marius M, Dungait JAJ, Smallman D, Dixon ER, Stringfellow A, Sear DA, Jones JI, Naden PS (2013) Catchment source contributions to the sediment-bound organic matter degrading salmonid spawning gravels in a lowland river, southern England Science of the Total Environment 456-7, 181-195.

23. Dungait JAJ, Ghee C, Rowan JS, McKenzie BM, Hawes C, Dixon ER, Paterson E, Hopkins DW (2013) Microbial responses to the erosional redistribution of soil organic carbon in arable fields. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 60, 165-201.

22. Puttock A, Dungait JAJ, Bol R, Dixon CJA, Macleod CJA, Brazier RE (2012) Stable carbon isotope analysis of fluvial sediment fluxes over two contrasting C4-C3 semi-arid vegetation transitions Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 26, 2386-2392.

21. Dungait JAJ, Whitmore AP, Withers P, Cardenas L, Blackwell M, Wu Lianhai, Bol R, Chadwick D, Murray P, Macdonald A, Goulding K (2012) Advances in the understanding of nutrient dynamics and management in UK agriculture. Science of the Total Environment 434, 39-50.

20. Dungait JAJ, Hopkins DW, Gregory AS, Whitmore AP (2012) Soil organic matter turnover is governed by accessibility not recalcitrance. Global Change Biology 18, 1781-1796.

19. Lloyd CEM, Michaelides K, Chadwick DR, Dungait JAJ, Evershed RP (2012) Tracing livestock-derived organic matter through soil using organic biomarkers. Organic Geochemistry 43, 56-66.

18. Dungait JAJ, Docherty G, Straker V, Evershed RP (2011) Variation in bulk tissue, fatty acid and monosaccharide d13C values between autotrophic and heterotrophic plant organs. Phytochemistry 72, 2130-2138.

17. Weijers JWH, Bernhardt B, Peterse F, Werne JP, Dungait JAJ, Schouten S, Sinninghe Damsté JS (2011) Absence of seasonal patterns in MBT-CBT indices in mid-latitude soils. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 75, 3179-3190.

16. Hoekstra NJ, Lalor S, Richards K, O’Hea N, Dungait JAJ, Schulte RPO, Schmidt O(2011) The fate of slurry N fractions in herbage and soil during two growing seasons following application. Plant and Soil 342, 83-96.

15. Dungait JAJ, Kemmitt SJ, Michallon L, Guo S, Wen Q, Evershed RP, Brookes PJ (2011) Investigating the response of the soil microbial biomass to trace amounts of 13C-labelled glucose using 13C-PLFA analysis. European Journal of Soil Science 62, 117-126.

14. Pilgrim ES, Macleod CJA, Blackwell MSA, Bol R, Hogan DV, Chadwick DR, Cardenas L, Misselbrook TH, Haygarth PM, Brazier RE, Hobbs P, Hodgson C, Jarvis S, Dungait JAJ, Murray PJ, Firbank LG (2010) Interactions among agricultural production and other ecosystem services delivered from European temperate grassland systems. Advances in Agronomy 109, 117-154.

13. Wurster CM, Bird MI, Bull ID, Creed F, Bryant C, Dungait JAJ, Paz V (2010) Forest contraction in Sundaland during the Last Glacial Period Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107, 15508-15511.

12. Rubino M, Dungait JAJ, Evershed, RP, Bertolini T, De Angelis P, D'Onofrio A, Lagomarsino A, Lubritto C, Merola, A, Terrasi F, Cotrufo MF (2010) Carbon input belowground is the major C flux contributing to leaf litter mass loss: evidences from a 13C labelled-leaf litter experiment. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 42, 1009-1016.

11. Gill FL, Dewhurst RJ, Dungait JAJ, Evershed RP, Ives L, Li C-S, Pancost RD, Sullivan M, Bera S, Bull ID (2010) Archaeol – a biomarker for foregut fermentation in modern and ancient herbivorous mammals? Organic Geochemistry 41, 467-472.

10. Dungait JAJ, Docherty G, Straker V, Evershed RP (2010) Seasonal variation in bulk tissue, fatty acid and monosaccharide δ13C values of leaves from mesotrophic grassland plant communities under different grazing management. Phytochemistry 71, 415-428.

9. Dungait JAJ, Bol R, Lopez-Capel E, Bull ID, Chadwick D, Amelung W, Granger S, Manning DC, Evershed RP (2010) Applications of stable isotope ratio mass spectrometry in cattle dung C cycling studies. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 24, 495-500.

8. Dungait JAJ, Bol R, Evershed RP (2009) Tracking the fate of dung-derived carbohydrates in a temperate grassland soil using compound-specific stable isotope analysis. Organic Geochemistry 40, 1210-1218.

7. Jia G, Dungait JAJ, Bingham EM, Valiranta M, Korhola A, Evershed RP (2008) Neutral monosaccharides as biomarker proxies for bog-forming plants for application to palaeovegetation reconstruction in ombrotrophic peat deposits. Organic Geochemistry 39, 1790-1799.

6. Dungait JAJ, Docherty G, Evershed RP (2008) Interspecific variation in bulk tissue, fatty acid and monosaccharide δ13C values of leaves from a mesotrophic grassland community. Phytochemistry 69, 2041-2051.

5. Dungait JAJ, Stear N, Van Dongen BE, Bol R, Evershed RP (2008) Off-line pyrolysis and compound-specific stable carbon isotope analysis of lignin moieties: a new method for determining the fate of lignin residues in soil. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 22, 1631-1639.

4. Dungait JAJ, Bol R, Briones MJI, Evershed RP (2008) Bulk tissue and fatty acid stable isotope investigation of the trophic exploitation of cow pats by epigeic and endogeic earthworms. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 22, 1643-1652.

3. Evershed RP, Crossman ZM, Bull ID, Mottram H, Dungait JAJ, Maxfield PJ, Brennand EL (2006) 13C-Labelling of lipids to investigate microbial communities in the environment. Current Opinion in Biotechnology 17, 72-82.

2. Dungait JAJ, Bol R, Evershed RP (2005) Quantification of dung carbon incorporation in a temperate grassland soil following spring application using stable carbon isotope determinations. Isotopes in Health and Environmental Studies 41, 3-12.

1. Peacock P, Batley J, Dungait JAJ, Barker JHA, Powers S, Karp A (2004) A comparative study of interspecies mating of Phratora vulgatissima and P. vitellinae using behavioral tests and molecular markers. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 110, 231-241.




PhD in Organic Chemistry (University of Bristol)


MSc in Crop Protection (University of Bath (Long Ashton Research Station))


BSc in Environmental Science (University of London (Birkbeck College))

Measures of esteem


  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology
  • Visiting Professor: Royal Agricultural University
  • EPSRC Grant Assessment Panel: RCUK-South East Asia, Malaysia


  • Fellow of the Institute of Soil Science
  • Associate Editor: Soil Research
  • Natural abundance stable 13C isotope tracing techniques to assess carbon cycling and sequestration changes in Australian soils.: Robert and Maude Gledden Postgraduate Research Scholarship, University of Western Australia (Jolene Otway)
  • Plant Biomarkers as a Proxy to Study Highly Decomposed Fen Peat: University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Holding it all together: the role of organic carbon in soil self-organisation: 5th International Symposium on Soil Organic Matter, Goettingen, Germany.
  • Honorary Associate Professor: College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter


  • Global Farm Platform: Rothamsted Research member
  • Novel approaches to understanding carbon redistribution at multiple scales: European Geophysical Union, Vienna, Austria.
  • BBSRC SWBio Management Board
  • Microbial cycling at the farm - A systems approach to assess risks and opportunities: BBSRC SWDTP studentship (Jamie McFadzean)


  • NERC Grant Assessment Panel
  • Soil organic matter turnover is governed by accessibility not recalcitrance: 13th ISSPA Symposium, Queenstown, New Zealand
  • Associate Editor: European Journal of Soil Science
  • Novel biogeochemical fingerprinting approaches to sediment source apportionment in catchments: British Soil Science Society, Lancaster, UK.
  • The dung cycle and transmission of drug-resistant parasites in a changing environment: BBSRC SWDTP PhD studentship (Andrew Cooke)
  • Intensive pastoral production systems for beef â?? Impact and value: Eblex AHDB PhD studentship (Jenna Thompson)
  • Novel biogeochemical fingerprinting approaches to sediment source apportionment in catchments: AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco.


  • Invited Visiting Scholar: Carbon Mitigation and Sequestration Center, Ohio State University, USA
  • FAO Grasslands Working Group
  • The role of decomposer communities in nutrient dynamics over periods of management change: BBSRC SWDTP PhD studentship (Katrina Pears)
  • Is eroded soil C a sink or source of atmospheric CO2?: ICAR PhD studentship (Sankar Mariappen)


  • Investigating trophic niche exploitation in coprophagic earthworms using biomarkers and stable isotopes: Soil Entomology and Ecology, Plymouth
  • Validation de l'utilisation des steroides en tant qu'outil de tracage de l'origine des contaminations fecales des eaux de surface: Universite de Rennes, France
  • Diagenetic processes in the plant-soil system and their implications for palaeo-reconstruction: American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting, San Francisco, USA


  • American Geophysical Union
  • Elected member of BSSS Council
  • Exploring the fate of dung C in soil using 13C compound-specific stable isotope ratio mass spectrometry: The 2nd International Workshop on C Sequestration and Climate Change Mitigation in Agriculture, Beijing, China
  • Applications of compound-specific isotope ratio mass spectrometry to investigate the fate of C from livestock-derived organic matter in soils.: 19th World Congress of Soil Science, Brisbane, Australia.
  • Honorary Research Fellowship: University of Exeter, School of Biosciences
  • Member of Editorial Board: Biology and Fertiity of Soils
  • Developing an understanding of vegetation change and carbon budgets in semi-arid environments: NERC Directed studentship(Alan Puttock)


  • Chair of South-West Soils Discussion Group: BSSS regional group
  • Fate and transport of lignin in the soil:water continuum: NERC CASE Studentship (Jon Williams)
  • The legacy of intensive agriculture: Implications for ecosystem service provision from agri-environment schemes: University of Edinburgh studentship (Claire Horrocks)
  • Earthworms and their environment: functional processes: Dung Ecology Workshop, Jesus College, Oxford


  • Experimental investigations of the effects of hillslope hydrological and soil erosion processes on soil organic matter dynamics: BBSRC PhD studentship (Charlotte Lloyd)


  • Best Student Oral Presentation: The 4th International Conference on Applications of Stable Isotope Techniques to Ecological Studies, Wellington, NZ, April, 2004


  • Outstanding Student Paper-Geochemistry Division: 225th ACS National Meeting, Molecular Studies of Soil Organic Matter Symposium, New Orleans, USA, March 2003


  • British Society of Soil Science
  • British Mass Spectrometry Society