I. The Great Lakes
The Laurentian Great Lakes hold 20% of our planet’s fresh water and represent a powerful system for studying microbial ecology and evolution. We have developed the first comprehensive microbial time series across all five Great Lakes, and we are using this dataset to ask fundamental questions about the causes and consequences of microbial diversity.
Spring and Summer Sampling
Since 2012, we have sampled aboard the R/V Lake Guardian in cooperation with the US EPA's Great Lakes National Program Office. We have characterized the microbiome across the Great Lakes via DNA barcoding, genome reconstructions, gene/protein expression, and flow cytometry.
Do microbial communities in Lake Michigan look similar to those in Lake Superior and Lake Ontario? Find our first biogeography results here. We delve into the genomes of nitrifying Bacteria and Archaea here and find some surprising features. More on the way!
Winter Grab 2022
In February 2022, we participated in the "Winter Grab," a collaboration between multiple universities and institutions across the Great Lakes region. The project aims to collect baseline data to lay a foundation for understanding how the Great Lakes ecosystem functions during the winter months. Read more about it here. For more background on winter limnology in the Great Lakes, check out this review.
II. Viral Biogeochemistry
Viruses in the oceans interact with their hosts in complex ways, affecting metabolism, population structure, and genome evolution. Our lab studies feedbacks between viral infection and biogeochemistry. For an overview of some of the questions we address, check out this review.
Tracking nitrogen during infection
Where do viruses get their nitrogen for making viral proteins? How do they use this (often scarce) resource? Using a method developed by our collaborator Jake Waldbauer, we are tracking how cyanophage acquire and direct nitrogen during infection. Find out more here.
Phosphorus recycling by viruses
How does phosphorus limitation affect viral infection dynamics? And how do viruses contribute to the recycling of dissolved phosphorus? We are studying these questions using cyanophage systems in the lab.
III. Ecosystem Genetics
Metagenomics continues to uncover microbial genetic diversity at a rapid pace, but assigning gene functions remains a major bottleneck. We are using genetics approaches to identify genes underlying ecological interactions and adaptation to climate change. Check out initial results from our collaboration with Sean Crosson and Aretha Fiebig here.