Humans usually recognize the impact of microbes on their lives through an infectious disease or spoiled food, but microorganisms have far more important beneficial effects. Microbes are responsible for producing foods (wine, cheese, and bread) and biofuels (ethanol, CH4, H2), degrading toxic compounds, recycling organic material, and driving biogeochemical cycles in nature. Our capacity to appreciate them is based on our limited number of microbial species in isolation. Owing to molecular biology techniques, we know that many more microbial species are waiting to be discovered. The research program in my laboratory is guided by the following specific questions:
- 1) How is the genetic diversity of a species reflected in its habitat abundance pattern?
- 2) What biological, chemical, and physical forces shape spatial and temporal patterns of species distribution?
- 3) What are the genomic features (genes, regulatory sequences, gene copy number, etc.) responsible for the ecological outcome of a species?
To answer these questions, my laboratory has been using a combination of genomic, proteomic, and physiological experimental data to study microbial phylogenetic and functional diversification. These questions have broad implications to basic research in evolutionary biology and ecology, and applied aspects, such as conservation policies.
Funding Provided by:
USDA (US Department of Agriculture)
DOE/EMSL (Department of Energy/Environmental Molecular Science Laboratory)
DOE/JGI (Department of Energy/Joint Genome Institute)
Recent NewsApr 2013 - New ISME J publication about the Verrucos! Feb 2013 - American Academy of Microbiology Colloquium! Jan 2013 - New PNAS publication about the Amazon!
I am always looking for bright and interested graduate students.