Department of Plant Pathology
2414 Gardner Hall
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-7616

Office: 919-515-2097
Lab: 919-515-3877
Fax: 919-515-7716



Microbial mediation of plant and ecosystem responses to global change components. We are currently investigating the mechanisms through which soil microorganisms mediate plant and ecosystem responses to elevated atmospheric CO2, O3 and N inputs. Our major focus is on how microorganisms respond to alterations in C and N availability under these global change components, and what are the implications of the resulting changes in terms of ecosystem C storage.

Microbial interactions and pathogen/disease suppression. We want to know whether and how the structure, diversity and activities of soil microbial and mesofaunal communities influence the population dynamics and activities of soilborne pathogenic fungi, Pythium spp. and Rhizoctonia spp. in particular.

Microbial mediation of plant interactions. We are interested in understanding how microbes, mycorrhizal and endophytic fungi in particular, modulate the interactions among coexisting plant species. Effects of disturbance on the structure and activities of soil organisms. Our current research examines how disturbance such as conventional farming and elevated atmospheric CO2 affects soil microbes and soil food web interactions and how the resulting alterations in soil organisms influence C and N cycling.


  • Soil/Ecosystem Ecology, PP590/790E
  • Ecology, Evolution & Biodiversity, BO 595E (co-teaching)
  • Climate Chang and Agriculture. PP590/PP790 (Special Topics)
  • New and re-emerging plant diseases in the US (Discussion group) (PP610Y/810Y)

Selected Publications

Cheng, L., F.L. Booker, K.O. Burkey, C. Tu, H.D. Shew, T.W. Rufty, E.L. Fiscus, S. Hu. 2011. Soil microbial responses to elevated CO2 and O3 in wheat-soybean agroecosystems. PLoS One. In press.

Cheng, L., J. Zhu, G. Chen, X. Zheng, N.O. Oh, T.W. Rufty, D.B. Richter, S. Hu, 2010. Atmospheric CO2 enrichment facilitates cation release from soil. Ecology Letters 13: 284-291.

Liu, L., J.S. King, F.L. Booker, C.P. Giardina, H.L. Allen, S. Hu. 2009. Enhanced litter input rather than changes in litter chemistry drive soil carbon and nitrogen cycles under elevated CO2: a microcosm study. Global Change Biology 15: 441-453.

Shao, M., J. Wang, R.A. Dean, Y. Lin, X. Gao, S. Hu. 2008. Expression of a harpin-encoding gene in rice confers durable nonspecific resistance to Magnaporthe grisea. Plant Biotechnology Journal 6, 73-81.

Chen, X., C. Tu, M. Bouton, D. Watson and S. Hu. 2007. Plant nitrogen acquisition and interactions under elevated CO2: impact of mycorrhizae and endophytes. Global Change Biology 23, 1238–1249.

Tu, C., F.L. Booker, D.M. Watson, X. Chen, T.W. Rufty, W. Shi, and S. Hu. 2006. Mycorrhizal mediation of plant N acquisition and residue decomposition: Impact of mineral N inputs. Global Change Biology 12, 793–803.

Hu, S., J.S. Wu, K.O. Burkey, and M.K. Firestone 2005. Plant-microbial N partitioning under elevated atmospheric CO2 in two mesocosm experiments with annual grasses. Global Change Biology 11, 213–223.

Zhang, W., K.M. Parker, Y.O. Luo, S. Wan, and S. Hu. 2005. Soil microbial responses to experimental warming and clipping in a tallgrass prairie. Global Change Biology 11, 266–277.

Booker, F.L., S.A. Prior, H.A. Torbert, E.L. Fiscus, W.A. Pursley, S. Hu. 2005. Influence of elevated CO2 and O3 on soybean residue chemistry and decomposition. Global Change Biology 11, 685–698.

Hu, S., F. S. Chapin, III, M. K. Firestone, C. B. Field and N. R. Chiariello. 2001. Nitrogen limitation of microbial decomposition in a grassland under elevated CO2. Nature 409, 188–191.

Hu, S., M. K. Firestone and F. S. Chapin III. 1999. Soil microbial feedbacks to atmospheric CO2 enrichment. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 14, 433–437.

Hu, S., M. K. Firestone and F. S. Chapin III. 1998. Elevated atmospheric CO2 and soil biota. Science 281, 518.

Hu, S. and A. H. C. van Bruggen. 1997. Microbial dynamics associated with multiphasic decomposition of 14C-labeled cellulose in soil. Microbial Ecology 33, 134–143.