Associate Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry

Center for Integrated Fungal Research
Department of Crop and Soil Science
3208 Williams Hall, 101 Derieux Street
Campus Box 7619
Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7619, USA
Phone: (919) 513-1577
Fax: (919) 515-2167


B.S., Chemistry and Geology, College of William and Mary, 1997
M.S., Environmental Sciences and Engineering, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2000
Ph.D., Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University
Postdoctoral Scholar, Division of Ecosystem Sciences, University of California, Berkeley


newsThe Duckworth Soil Biogeochemistry Laboratory has broad research interests concerning the interactions between organisms, metals, and mineral surfaces. Understanding these processes at the fundamental level is critical basic research that is broadly applicable to a number of environmental and agronomic research areas. For example, the ability of toxic metals, such as arsenic, chromium, and cobalt, to contaminate groundwater resources or enter the foodchain is controlled by the interactions of these metals with minerals surface and microbes. We are specifically looking at the ability of fungally produced manganese oxides to bind toxic metals and degrade organic compounds to better understand their roles in controlling pollutant transport and aid in the design environmental remediation systems.

soilFrom an agronomic perspective, crop uptake of nutrient metals is necessary to avoid plant diseases and improve the nutritional value of crops, and the ability of plants to meet its nutritional need is highly dependent on how metal behavior in soils is controlled by minerals and microbes. We are specifically interested in how plants, bacteria, and fungi compete for iron in soils, and how this competition affects microbial dynamics, plant disease, and the nutritional value of crops.



Duckworth teaches Soil and Environmental Biogeochemistry (SSC 442), a course that investigates the cycling of nutrients and pollutants in soils and the effects of human activities on both the soil environment and global processes. Connections are made to the real world by using case studies to illustrate the key chemical and biological concepts associated with elemental cycles. The course is taught each spring semester.

Selected Publications

Droz, B., Dumas,N., Duckworth, O.W. and Peña, J., (2014) Structure and sorption reactivity of biogenic MnO2 precipitated by bacterial and fungal cultures, Environmental Science and Technology, in review.


Kraemer, S.M., Duckworth, O.W., Harrington, J.M., and Schenkeveld, W. D. C. (2014) Metallophores and trace metals biogeochemistry, Aquatic Geochemistry, in press. Link

Duckworth, O.W., Heitman, J.L., and Polizzotto, M.L. (2014) Soil water: From molecular structure to behavior, Nature Education Knowledge, 5 (8), 1.

Akafia, M.M., Harrington, J.M.,Bargar, J.R., and Duckworth, O.W. (2014) Metal Oxyhydroxide Dissolution as Promoted by Structurally Diverse Siderophores and Oxalate, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 141, 258-269. Link

Duckworth, O.W., Akafia, M.M., Andrews, M.Y., and Bargar, J.R. (2014) Siderophore-Promoted Dissolution of Chromium from Hydroxide Minerals, Environmental Science: Processes and Impacts, 16, 1348-1359. Link

Abit, S.M., Vepraskas, M.J., Duckworth, O.W., and Amoozegar A. (2013) Dissolution of Phosphorus into Pore-Water Flowing through an organic soil, Geoderma, 197-198, 51-58. Link

Duckworth, O.W. and Harrington, J.M. (2012) Student Presentations of Case Studies to Illustrate Core Concepts in Soil Biogeochemistry, Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education, 41, 35-43. Link

Saal, L.B., and Duckworth, O.W. (2010) Synergistic Dissolution of Manganese Oxides as Promoted by Siderophores and Small Organic Acids, Soil Science Society of America Journal, 74, 2032-2038. Link

Bi, Y., Hesterberg, D. L., and Duckworth, O.W. (2010) Siderophore-Promoted Dissolution of Cobalt from Hydroxide Minerals, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 74, 2915-2925. Link

Smits, M.M., Herrmann, A. M., Duane, M., Duckworth, O.W., Bonneville, S., Benning, L., and Lundström, U. (2009)The fungal-mineral interface: Challenges and considerations of micro-analytical developments, Fungal Biology Reviews, 23, 122-131. Link

Duckworth, O.W., Bargar, J.R., and Sposito, G. (2009) Coupled Biogeochemical Cycling of Iron and Manganese as Mediated by Microbial Siderophores, BioMetals, 22, 605-613. Link