Karen Jordaan

Postdoctoral fellow


I don’t see the desert as barren at all; I see it as full and ripe. It doesn’t need to be flattered with rain. It certainly needs rain, but it does with what it has, and creates amazing beauty.” - Joy Harjo

Deserts are magical, yet harsh, environments that flourish with all kinds of life: humans, plants, animals, and microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, archaea, viruses). Desert microbes have special adaptive mechanisms to survive these extreme environments. The focus of my research is to better understand the mechanisms by which microbial communities adapt to and/or are influenced by extreme environments using a suite of omics techniques. I’m also interested in: (i) the interactions/co-occurrences between microorganism, especially with drying-wetting events; (ii) how drying-wetting events impact biogeochemical cycles; (iii) the presence and ecology of viruses in deserts; and (iv) the effect of viruses on the succession and function of bacterial communities.


  • Microbial Ecology
  • Extreme Environments
  • Sequencing
  • Bioinformatics
  • Data Analysis


PhD. Environmental Sciences, 2015

North-West University, South Africa



Karen Jordaan
Karen Jordaan