Senior Scientist, Biological Sciences Division
Senior Scientist, Biological Sciences Division


Dr. Kirsten Hofmockel is a Sr. Scientist in the Biological Sciences Division. Her research focuses on the influence of plant-microbe ecology on soil biogeochemistry to identify molecular reactions that inform the prediction of ecosystem responses to environmental change and probable feedbacks to ecosystem functions.

Hofmockel is principal investigator for the DOE-funded Soil Microbiome Science Focus Area project, leading a National Science Foundation-funded project to study carbon-nitrogen coupling in grasslands. She is also a DOE Early Career Award recipient for research focused on elucidating the molecular interactions of plants, soils, and microbes in growing bioenergy crops. In addition, Hofmockel is the president of the Soil Ecology Society, a member of the U.S. National Committee for Soil Sciences, and holds a joint appointment with the Iowa State University Department of Agronomy.

Disciplines and Skills

  • Plant-microbe-soil interactions
  • Soil biogeochemistry
  • Land-atmosphere exchange of carbon.


  • Ph.D., Ecology, Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment
  • Masters of Environmental Management, Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment
  • B.S. with honors, Environmental Resource Management, Pennsylvania State University

Affiliations and Professional Service

  • President of Soil Ecology Society
  • Liaison to the U.S. National Committee for Soil Sciences
  • Member of AAAS, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Member of the Ecological Society of America
  • Member of the American Geophysical Union

Awards and Recognitions

  • 2018 PNNL Pathways to Excellence Award
  • 2017 PNNL Pathways to Excellence Award
  • 2017 Environmental and Biological Science Directorate Best in Science Award
  • 2016 U.S. Department of Energy Early Career Research Award
  • 2014 Iowa State University Award for Early Achievement in Research



  • Smercina D, Kim YM, Lipton M, Velickovic D, and Hofmockel KS 2022 Bulk and spatially resolved extracellular metabolomics of free-living nitrogen fixation. Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2022 Jun 2;e0050522 DOI: 10.1128/aem.00505-22
  • Graham E, Hofmockel KS 2021 Ecological stoichiometry as a foundation for omics-enabled biogeochemical models of soil organic matter decomposition, Biogeochemistry PNNL-SA-159593
  • Gill AL, Adler PB, Borer ET, Buyarski CR, Cleland EE, D'Antonio CM, Davies KF, Gruner DS, Harpole, WS, Hofmockel KS and MacDougall AS, 2022. Nitrogen increases earlystage and slows latestage decomposition across diverse grasslands. Journal of Ecology.
  • Smercina D, Zambare N, Hofmockel KS, Sadler N, Bredeweg EL, Nicora C, Markillie LM and Aufrecht J 2022. Synthetic Soil Aggregates: Bioprinted Habitats for High-Throughput Microbial Metaphenomics. Microorganisms, 10(5), p.944.


  • Bay G, Lee C, Chen C, Mahal NK, Castellano MJ, Hofmockel KS, Halverson LJ. Agricultural Management Affects the Active Rhizosphere Bacterial Community Composition and Nitrification. Msystems. 2021 Sep 28;6(5):e00651-21
  • Keller AB, Borer ET, Collins SL, DeLancey LC, Fay PA, Hofmockel KS, Leakey AD, Mayes MA, Seabloom EW, Walter CA, Wang Y. Soil carbon stocks in temperate grasslands differ strongly across sites but are insensitive to decadelong fertilization. Global change biology. 2021 Nov 21.
  • Zhao Q, Thompson AM, Callister SJ, Tfaily MM, Bell SL, Hobbie SE, Hofmockel KS. Dynamics of organic matter molecular composition under aerobic decomposition and their response to the nitrogen addition in grassland soils. Science of the Total Environment. 2022 Feb 1;806:150514.
  • Wu R, Davison MR, Gao Y, Nicora CD, Mcdermott JE, Burnum-Johnson KE, Hofmockel KS, Jansson JK. Moisture modulates soil reservoirs of active DNA and RNA viruses. Communications Biology. 2021 Aug 26;4(1):992-992.
  • Leichty SI, Kasanke CP, Bell SL, Hofmockel KS. Site and Bioenergy Cropping System Similarly Affect Distinct Live and Total Soil Microbial Communities. Frontiers in Microbiology. 2021:3086.
  • Wu R, Davison MR, Gao Y, Nicora CD, Mcdermott JE, Burnum-Johnson KE, Hofmockel KS, Jansson JK. Moisture modulates soil reservoirs of active DNA and RNA viruses. Communications Biology. 2021 Aug 26;4(1):992-992.
  • Smercina DN, Bailey VL, Hofmockel KS. 2021 Micro on a macroscale: relating microbial-scale soil processes to global ecosystem function. FEMS Microbiology Ecology. 2021 Jul 5.
  • Salmon VG, Brice DJ, Bridgham S, Childs J, Graham J, Griffiths NA, Hofmockel KS, Iversen CM, Jicha TM, Kolka RK, Kostka JE. Nitrogen and phosphorus cycling in an ombrotrophic peatland: a benchmark for assessing change. Plant and Soil. 2021 Jul 17:1-26.
  • Hungate BA, Marks JC, Power ME, Schwartz E, Jan van Groenigen, Blazewicz SJ, Chuckran P,  Dijkstra P, Finley BK, K Firestone, MK, Foley MM, Greenlon A,  Hofmockel KS,Koch BJ, Mack MC, Mau RL, Miller S, Morrissey EM, Prosper JR, Purcell AM, Starr EP, Stone BG, Terrer C, Pett-Ridge J 2021 The Functional Significance of Bacterial Predators mBio 12:e00466-21.
  • Stone BW, Li J, Koch BJ, Blazewicz SJ, Dijkstra P, Hayer M, Hofmockel KS, Liu XJ, Mau RL, Morrissey EM, Pett-Ridge J. 2021 Nutrients cause consolidation of soil carbon flux to small proportion of bacterial community. Nature communications. Jun 7;12(1):1-9.
  • Wang C, Morrissey EM, Mau RL, Hayer M, Piñeiro J, Mack M, Marks JC, Bell SL, Miller SN, Schwartz E, Dijkstra P, Koch BJ, Stone BW,  Purcell AM, Blazewicz SJ, Hofmockel KS, Pett-Ridge J, Hungate BA, and 2021 Taxon-specific temperature sensitivity of microbial growth drives soil carbon decomposition under global warming. The temperature sensitivity of soil: microbial biodiversity, growth, and carbon mineralization. ISME
  • Huang L, Liu W, Ma X, Wang J, Guo W, Jia E, Zeng Q, Qin R, Kleber M, Hofmockel KS, Dong H, Jiang H, Zhu Z 2021 Molecular determination of organic adsorption sites on smectite during Fe-redox processes using ToF-SIMS analysis Environmental Science & Technology. 2021 Apr 26.
  • Bhattacharjee A, Anderson L, Alfaro T, Porras-Alfaro A, Jumpponen A, Hofmockel KS, Jansson J, Anderton C, and Nelson W. 2021 Draft Genome of Fusarium sp. strain DS 682, a novel Fungal isolate from the Grass Rhizosphere. ASM Microbiology Resource Announcements DOI: 10.1128/MRA.00884-20
  • Kasanke, CP, Zhao, Q., Bell, S.L., Thompson, A.M., and Hofmockel, K.S. 2021. Can switchgrass increase carbon accrual in marginal soils? The importance of site selection. Global Change Biology and Bioenergy GCB Bioenergy.
  • Zegeye E, Sadler NC, Lomas GX, Attah IK, Jansson JK, Hofmockel KS, and Anderton CR,  AT Wright. Activity-based protein profiling of chitin catabolism. 2021 Chembiochem
  • Weitz KK, Smith ML, Hixson KK, Hill EA, Jansson JK, Hofmockel KS, Lipton MS. Real-Time Mass Spectrometry Measurements of Respiration Rates in Biological Systems. Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry. 2021 Mar 3;32(3):648-52.


  • Bhattacharjee A, Brislawn C, Schwarz K, Burnet MC, Kim, Y.-M, Nunez J, Fansler SJ, Farris Y, Metz T, McClure RS, Renslow RS, Shor,L, Jansson JK, Hofmockel KS, Anderton CR. 2020 Soil microbial EPS hydrogel resiliency is constrained by nutrient availability
  • Sieradzki ET, Koch BJ, Greenlon A, Sachdeva R, Malmstrom RR, Mau RL, Blazewicz SJ, Firestone, MK Hofmockel KS, Schwartz E,  Hungate BA, Pett-Ridge J Measurement Error and Resolution in Quantitative Stable Isotope Probing: Implications for Experimental Design 2020. mSystems 5:e00151-20.
  • Nelson WC, Anderson LN, Wu R, McDermott JE, Bell SL, Jumpponen A, Fansler SJ, Tyrrell KJ, Farris Y, Hofmockel KS, Jansson JK. Terabase Metagenome Sequencing of Grassland Soil Microbiomes. Microbiology Resource Announcements. 2020 Aug 6;9(32). DOI: 10.1128/MRA.00718-20
  • Anderton CR, Mobberley JM, Cole JK, Nunez JR, Starke R, Boaro AA, Yesiltepe Y, Morton BR, Cory AB, Cardamone HC, Hofmockel KS. Nitrogen Source Governs Community Carbon Metabolism in a Model Hypersaline Benthic Phototrophic Biofilm. 2020 Msystems 5(3). DOI: 10.1128/mSystems.00260-20
  • McClure R, Naylor D, Farris Y, Fansler S, Hofmockel KS, Jansson JK 2020 Development and Analysis of a Stable, Reduced Complexity Model Soil Microbiome  Frontiers in Microbiology 11. DOI: 10.1128/mBio.01349-20
  • Naylor D, Fansler S, Brislawn C, Nelson WC, Hofmockel KS, Jansson JK, McClure R Deconstructing the Soil Microbiome into Reduced-Complexity Functional Modules mBio 11(4). DOI: 10.1128/mBio.01349-20
  • McClure R, Lee JY, Chowdhury T, Bottos E, White III R, Kim YM, Nicora C, Metz T, Hofmockel KS, Jansson J, Song HS Integrated network modeling approach defines key metabolic responses of soil microbiomes to perturbations. Scientific Reports 10(1):1-9.
  • Ochoa Hueso R, Borer E, Seabloom E, Hobbie S, Collins S, Risch A, Alberti J, Bahamonde H, Brown C, Caldeira M, Daleo P,  Dickman C, Ebeling A, Eisenhauer N,  Esch E, Eskelinen A, Fernandez V, Güsewell S, Gutierrez B, Hofmockel K, Laungani R, Lind E, López A, McCulley B, Moore J, Peri P, Power S,  Price J, Prober S, Roscher C, Sarneel J,  Schuetz M, Siebert J, Standish R, Velasco Ayuso S, Virtanen R, Wardle G, Wiehl G, Yahdjian L, Zamin T 2020  Microbial processing of plant remains is co-limited by multiple nutrients in global grasslands by Global Change Biology 26(8) p.4572-4582
  • Zhao Q,  Callister SJ, Thompson AM, Kukkadapu R, Tfaily MM,  Bramer LM,  Qafoku NP,  Bell SL, Hobbie SE, Seabloom EW, Borer ET, Hofmockel KS 2020 Strong mineralogic control of soil organic matter composition across diverse grassland sites Science of the Total Environment , 668, 137839
  • Lee J, Sadler NC, Egbert RG, Anderton C, Hofmockel KS, Jansson JK, and Song H. 2020. Deep Learning Predicts Microbial Interactions from Self-organized Spatiotemporal Patterns. Invited Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal. 18: 1259-1269
  • Naylor D, Sadler N, Bhattacharjee A, Graham E, Anderton C, McClure R, Lipton M, Hofmockel KS, Jansson JK Soil Microbiomes under Climate Change and Implications for Carbon Cycling Invited Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour. 2020. 45                      
  • Huang X, Xiaopeng,  Zhao Q,  Young R, Zhang X, Walter E, Chen Y,  Nakouzi E, Taylor S, Loring JS, Wang Z, Hofmockel KS,  Rosso K, 2019 Photocatalytic Reactive Oxygen Species and Degradation of Dissolved Organic Matter by Hematite Nanoplates Functionalized by Adsorbed Oxalate. 2020 Environ. Sci.: Nano, , 7, 2278-2292. DOI: 10.1039/D0EN00365D           
  • Boiteau R, Kukkadapu R, Smallwood C, Cliff, J Kovarik L, Wirth M, Engelhard M, Varga T, Dohnalkova A, Perea D, Wietsma T, Moran J, and Hofmockel K Calcareous organic matter coatings sequester siderophores in alkaline soils 26:138250
  • Bhattacharjee A, Velickovic D, Wietsma T, Bell S, Jansson J, Hofmockel K, and Anderton C 2020 Visualizing microbial community dynamics via a controllable soil environment mSystems 5.1 DOI:10.1128/mSystems.00645-19
  • Wattenburger C, Gutknecht J, Zhang Q, Brutnell T, Hofmockel KS Halverson L 2020 The rhizosphere and cropping system, but not arbuscular mycorrhizae, affect ammonia oxidizing archaea and bacteria abundances in two agricultural soils Applied Soil Ecology 151:103540,
  • Bramer L, White, A, Stratton, K, Thompson A, Claborne D, Hofmockel KS, Mccue LA. 2020 ftmsRanalysis: An R package for exploratory data analysis and interactive visualization of FT-MS data 2020 PLOS Computational Biology 16;16(3):e1007654  
  • Wilsey B, Xu X, Polley WH, Hofmockel KS, Hall S 2020 Lower soil carbon stocks in exotic vs. native grasslands are driven by differential carbonate losses. Ecology, pp.e03039-e03039 DOI:10.1002/ecy.3039
  • Martiny J, Whiteson K, Bohannan B, David L, Hynson N, McFall-Ngai N, Rawls J, Schmidt T, Abdo Z, Blaser M, Bordenstein B, Bréchot C, Bull C, Dorrestein P, Eisen J, Garcia-Pichel F, Gilbert J, Hofmockel K, Holtz M, Knight R, Pfister C, Proctor L, Welch DM, McDonald D, Methe B, Mouncey N, Mueller N, Sachs J 2020 The Emergence of Microbiome Centers Nature Microbiology volume 5, pages23
  • Upton RN, Sielaff AC, Hofmockel KS, Xu X, Polley WH, Wilsey BJ 2020 Soil depth and grassland origin cooperatively shape microbial community co-occurrence Ecosphere



  • Cleland E., E. Lind, N. Decrappeo, E. DeLorenze, R. Wilkins, P. Adler, and J.D. Bakker, et al. 2019. "Belowground Biomass Response to Nutrient Enrichment Depends on Light Limitation Across Globally Distributed Grasslands." Ecosystems 22, no. 7:1466-1477. PNNL-SA-142332. doi:10.1007/s10021-019-00350-4
  • Crowther T.W., C. Riggs, E. Lind, E. Borer, E. Seabloom, S. Hobbie, and J. Wubs, et al. 2019. "Sensitivity of global soil carbon stocks to combined nutrient enrichment." Ecology Letters 22, no. 6:936-945. PNNL-SA-147127. doi:10.1111/ele.13258
  • Graham E.B., F. Yang, S.L. Bell, and K.S. Hofmockel. 2019. "High Genetic Potential for Proteolytic Decomposition in Northern Peatland Ecosystems." Applied Environmental Microbiology 85, no. 10:Article No. e02851-18. PNNL-SA-136389. doi:10.1128/AEM.02851-18
  • Hovenden M.J., S. Leuzinger, P.D. Newton, A. Fletcher, S. Fatichi, A. Luscher, and P.B. Reich, et al. 2019. "Globally consistent influences of seasonal precipitation limit grassland biomass response to elevated CO2." Nature Plants 5, no. 2:167-173. PNNL-SA-141746. doi:10.1038/s41477-018-0356-x
  • Keiser A.D., M.L. Smith, S.L. Bell, and K.S. Hofmockel. 2019. "Peatland microbial community response to altered climate tempered by nutrient availability." Soil Biology and Biochemistry 137. PNNL-SA-147067. doi:10.1016/j.soilbio.2019.107561
  • Morrissey E., R.L. Mau, M. Hayer, X. Liu, E. Schwartz, P. Dijkstra, and B.J. Koch, et al. 2019. "Evolutionary history constrains microbial traits across environmental variation." Nature Ecology & Evolution 3, no. 7:1064-1069. PNNL-SA-147133. doi:10.1038/s41559-019-0918-y
  • Starke R., N. Jehmlich, T.D. Alfaro, A. Dohnalkova, P. Capek, S.L. Bell, and K.S. Hofmockel. 2019. "Incomplete cell disruption of resistant microbes." Scientific Reports 9. PNNL-SA-141081. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-42188-9
  • Wattenburger C., L. Halverson, and K.S. Hofmockel. 2019. "Agricultural Management Affects Root-Associated Microbiome Recruitment over Maize Development." Phytobiomes 3, no. 4:260-272. PNNL-SA-147039. doi:10.1094/PBIOMES-03-19-0016-R
  • Zengler K., K.S. Hofmockel, N.S. Baliga, S.W. Behie, H. Bernstein, J.B. Brown, and J.R. Dinneny, et al. 2019. "EcoFAB: Advancing microbiome science through standardized fabricated ecosystems." Nature Methods 16, no. 7:567-571. PNNL-SA-138240. doi:10.1038/s41592-019-0465-0


  • Bach E., G. Narvaez-Rivera, K.E. Murray, J.T. Bauer, and K.S. Hofmockel. 2018. "The dynamic life of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal symbionts." Ecology 99, no. 4:978-980. PNNL-SA-129609. doi:10.1002/ecy.2096
  • Bach E., R. Williams, S.K. Hargreaves, F. Yang, and K.S. Hofmockel. 2018. "Greatest soil microbial diversity found in micro-habitats." Soil Biology and Biochemistry 118. PNNL-SA-123740. doi:10.1016/j.soilbio.2017.12.018
  • Davis M.P., T.A. Groh, T.B. Parkin, R. Williams, T.M. Isenhart, and K.S. Hofmockel. 2018. "Portable Automation of Static Chamber Sample Collection for Quantifying Soil Gas Flux." Journal of Environmental Quality 47, no. 2:270-275. PNNL-SA-132338. doi:10.2134/jeq2017.10.0387
  • Jansson J.K., and K.S. Hofmockel. 2018. "The Soil Microbiome - From Metagenomics to Metaphenomics." Current Opinion in Microbiology 43. PNNL-SA-132057. doi:10.1016/j.mib.2018.01.013
  • Sielaff A.C., R. Upton, K.S. Hofmockel, X. Xu, W. Polley, and B.J. Wilsey. 2018. "Microbial community structure and functions differ between native and novel (exotic-dominated) grassland ecosystems in an 8 year experiment." Plant and Soil 432, no. 1-2:359-372. PNNL-SA-133470. doi:10.1007/s11104-018-3796-1


  • Choi J., F. Yang, R. Stepanauskas, E. Cardenas, A. Garoutte, R. Williams, and J. Flater, et al. 2017. "Strategies to improve reference databases for soil microbiomes." The ISME Journal 11, no. 4:829-834. PNNL-SA-122172. doi:10.1038/ismej.2016.168
  • Hobbie E.A., J. Chen, P.J. Hanson, C. Iversen, K. McFarlane, N.R. Thorp, and K.S. Hofmockel. 2017. "Long-term carbon and nitrogen dynamics at SPRUCE revealed through stable isotopes in peat profiles." Biogeosciences 14. PNNL-SA-126833. doi:10.5194/bg-14-2481-2017
  • Kaleita A.L., L.R. Schott, S.K. Hargreaves, and K.S. Hofmockel. 2017. "Differences in soil biological activity by terrain types at the sub-field scale in central Iowa US." PLoS One 12, no. 7:Article No. e0180596. PNNL-SA-127024. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0180596
  • King A.E., and K.S. Hofmockel. 2017. "Diversified cropping systems support greater microbial cycling and retention of carbon and nitrogen." Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 240. PNNL-SA-123816. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2017.01.040