Microbial nutrient acquisition & metabolic allocation
In many natural ecosystems, microbial activity is limited by the availability of nutrient resources to biosynthesize cellular constituents, especially proteins. Using proteomics and other techniques, we probe how cells allocate scarce nutrients among a wide variety of metabolic processes, and how those allocations change in response to environmental perturbations.
Community metabolism and biogeochemical fluxes
Ecosystem-scale biogeochemical fluxes (such as carbon or nitrogen fixation, CO2 or O2 production, or consumption/release of more complex substrates) reflect the net result of simultaneous metabolic activities by interacting communities of organisms. Proteomics is one useful tool to unpack how different coexisting taxa in an environment contribute to large-scale chemical transformations.
Protein diagenesis & fossilization
The proteins in living biomass represent both a rich nutrient store and a potential source of informative molecular fossils that could offer new paleorecords of ancient life and environments. To unlock this information from the geologic record, we need to better understand protein diagenesis and taphonomy at a molecular level.