Maddy Giles

Research Scientist
Ecological Sciences
T: +44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

Maddy is a soil microbial ecologist and biogeochemist in the Plant-Soil Interactions (PSI) research group within Ecological Sciences, James Hutton Institute. Her research focuses on the ecology of the C and N cycles and her interests lie in relating how changes in soil functional communities can affect nutrient cycling and the production of greenhouse gases in agricultural systems. In particular, she’s interested in using next-generation sequencing techniques to characterise the soil microbiome in order to understand how microbial community dynamics can be affected by crop selection and can impact the retention of N in soils.

My current research work falls into two broad areas: (i) developing and applying experimental approaches to link the soil microbiome to measures of biogeochemical cycling in plant-soil systems, with the aim of understanding the interaction between plant inputs, microbiome and GHG emissions; (ii) using long term field trials, to identify factors in agricultural systems responsible for structuring of microbial communities and how this may affect plant productivity and GHG emissions. I am currently involved in a number of projects;

Past research

  • Sustainable soils by quality compost with defined properties (2020-2023) (Interreg).
  • Are chitin amendments to soil a means to control potato cyst nematodes? (2023) (BBSRC)
  • Using Critical Zone Science to Enhance Soil Fertility and Improve Ecosystem Services for Peri-Urban Agriculture in China – Phase 2 (2019-2021) (NERC)

Current Students

  • Haosheng Yang; Composition-function relationship of soil microbial diversity for nutrient cycling under climate change. With the University of Edinburgh.
  • Apisit Boupai; Does crop genotype utilisation of soil organic matter lower greenhouse gas emissions from soil? With the University of Edinburgh.
  • Maya Subberwal; Understanding the impact of sustainable agricultural practices on crop development by focusing on microbial ecology and the exposome. With the University of Glasgow


Technical / contract reports

  • Matthews, K.; Blackstock, K.L.; Wardell-Johnson, D.H.; Miller, D.G.; Tavana, M.; Thomson, S.; Moxey, A.; Neilson, R.; Baggaley, N.; Giles, M.; Karley, A.; Loades, K.; Paterson, E.; Pakeman, R.; Hawes, C.; Stockan, J.; Stutter, M.; Addy, S.; Wilkinson, M.E.; Juarez-Bourke, A.; Waylen, K.A.; Rivington, M.; Aitkenhead, M.J.; Coull, M.C. (2023) Synthesis Report: Screening Enhanced Conditionality Measures, An output of RESAS commissioned project Supporting
    Scotland’s Land Use Transformations (JHI-C3-1),59pp, Published online
  • Neilson, R.; Lilly, A.; Aitkenhead, M.; Artz, R.R.E.; Baggaley, N.; Giles, M.E.; Holland, J.; Loades, K.; Ovando Pol, P.; Rivington, M.; Roberts, M.; Yeluripati, J. (2020) Measuring the vulnerability of Scottish soils to a changing climate., ClimateXChange Report, 42pp.

Conference papers

  • Giles, M.E.; Daniell, T.J.; Baggs, E.M. (2011) What is the influence of rhizodeposited carbon on the production of N2O and N2 during denitrification?, Rhizosphere 3 International Conference, Perth, Australia, 25-30 September 2011.
  • Baggs, E.; Chadwick, K.; Giles, M.; Freitag, T.; Paterson, E. (2011) How strong is the coupling between plant C-flow and rhizosphere denitrification?, Rhizosphere 3 International Conference, Perth, Australia, 25-30 September 2011.

Conference posters / abstracts

  • Giles, M. (2023) Soil Management – Plant soil interactions as a control on greenhouse gas emissions, Healthy Soils for a Green Recovery Stakeholder meeting
  • Giles, M.; Paterson, E.; Neilson, R. (2018) Selecting grass species to reduce greenhouse gas emissions., Science at the Parliament, Holyrood, 30 May 2018.
  • Giles, M.E.; Daniell, T.J.; Baggs, E.M. (2010) Nitrous oxide production in soil in response to addition of different C compounds., Biochemical Society. Enzymology and Ecology of the Nitrogen Cycle, Birmingham, 15-17 September 2010 (Poster).