Microorganisms are essential members of the arid soil environment. They shape the landscape through rock weathering and soil crust formation. They are the most important organisms in the biogeochemical cycling of carbon and nitrogen, and they adapt to the rapidly changing environmental conditions of water availability, temperature, and UV radiation. Microorganisms possess enormous metabolic potential with biotechnological applications.

The Environmental and Aquatic Microbiology track of study introduces the students to the latest developments in environmental microbiology research in arid environments, using advanced molecular, biogeochemical and isotopic tools.  This track of study includes an integration of classes and research activities that cover a wide range of environmental and ecological issues  encompassing microbial activities.