Terrence Bell

Picture of Dr. Bell
Assistant Professor
Building EV 460

Terrence Bell is a soil microbiologist and ecologist. His first faculty appointment was at The Pennsylvania State University from 2017-2022, after working as a postdoctoral fellow at l’Université de Montréal and Cornell University. He earned his B.Sc.H. from Queen’s University, his M.Sc. from Western University, and his Ph.D. from McGill University.

His work explores the constraints on microbial niche breadth and the extent to which niche breadth can be modified by new environmental pressures. This research has fundamental implications for microbial biogeography, as well as the fitness and functional costs of different types of generalism. It also has numerous applications, including microbial product development, the limits of directed evolution for biotechnology, and the detection and management of microbial invasions.

Teaching interest

EESC30H3S - Environmental Microbiology

Research Interests

Soil microbiology; Microbial products; Generalists and specialists; Agriculture; Bioremediation; High-throughput sequencing


  • King WL, Richards SC, Kaminsky LM, Bradley BA, Kaye JP, Bell TH. 2023. Leveraging microbiome rediversification for the ecological rescue of soil function. Environmental Microbiome 18: 7. 
  • Fleishman S, Centinari M, Bell TH, Eissenstat D. 2023. Assessing microbial communities across the fine root landscape. Journal of Experimental Botany DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erad019 
  • Yates C, Trexler RV, Bonet I, King WL, Hockett K, Bell TH. 2022. Rapid niche shifts in bacteria following conditioning in novel soil environments. Functional Ecology 36: 3085-3095. 
  • King WL, Kaminsky LM, Richards SC, Bradley BA, Kaye JP, Bell TH. 2022. Farm-scale differentiation of active microbial colonizers. ISME Communications 2: 39.
  • Sutherland J, Bell TH, Trexler RV, Carlson J, Lasky J. 2022. Host genomic influence on bacterial composition in the switchgrass rhizosphere. Molecular Ecology 31: 3934-3950.
  • Isbell SA, Bell TH, Bradley B, Rowles T, Kaye JP. 2022. Nitrogen services provided by interseeded cover crops in organic corn systems. Agronomy Journal https://doi.org/10.1002/agj2.21071.
  • Kaminsky L, Bell TH. 2022. Novel primers for quantification of Priestia megaterium populations in soil using qPCR. Applied Soil Ecology.
  • Martin P, King WL, Bell TH, Peter K. 2022. The decay and fungal succession of apples with bitter rot across a vegetation diversity gradient. Phytobiomes 6: 26-34.
  • King W, Kaminsky LM, Gannett M, Thompson G, Kao-Kniffin J, Bell TH. 2021. Soil salinization accelerates microbiome stabilization in iterative selections for plant performance. New Phytologist 234: 2101-2110.
  • King WL†, Yates C†, Guo J, Fleishman S, Trexler RV, Centinari M, Bell TH, Eissenstat D. 2021. The hierarchy of root branching order determines bacterial composition, microbial carrying capacity, and microbial filtering. Communications Biology 4: 483. †indicates co-first authors
  • Kaminsky LM, Esker P, Bell TH. 2021. Abiotic conditions outweigh microbial origin during bacterial assembly in soils. Environmental Microbiology 23: 358-371.
  • Bell TH, Camillone N Abram K, Bruns MA, Yergeau E, St-Arnaud M. 2021. Hydrocarbon substrate richness impacts microbial abundance, microbiome composition, and hydrocarbon loss. Applied Soil Ecology 165: 104015.
  • Bell TH, Bell T. 2021. Many roads to bacterial generalism. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 97: fiaa240.