Bacteria and Archaea constitute the overwhelming majority of genetic and metabolic diversity on this planet. To understand these organisms in their native habitats, environmental microbiologists are tasked with two fundamental questions. First, how do ecological and evolutionary processes (e.g., symbiosis, competition, recombination, natural selection) create and structure genetic diversity? Second, how is this genetic diversity linked to the diverse biogeochemical functions of microorganisms in nature?
Our research explores these questions for marine microorganisms, using the tools of genomics and molecular biology. We are particularly interested in how microbial genome evolution and physiology are affected by symbiotic interactions with higher taxa. In tandem with this work, we study free-living microorganisms, as they provide important reference points for understanding symbiont biology and mediate key global biogeochemical cycles in the ocean’s water column and sediments. In particular, we are interested in how oxygen loss affects the diversity and metabolism of marine microbes. Our research integrates the broad fields of microbiology, molecular evolution, and marine biology. This work has both descriptive and experimental components, and involves a blend of field, molecular, and bioinformatic techniques, the latter focused in part on the analysis of high-throughput sequencing datasets. We welcome inquiries from potential students, post-docs, and collaborators who share these interests.