PROJECTS

Freshwater Sediments 

Freshwater systems are woefully understudied from a microbiology perspective. In Earth's large lakes, oligotrophy can drive interesting alternative biogeochemical cycles due to the dearth of labile carbon. Using a combination of genomic and culture based techniques we are probing these unique environments to understand the roles of novel microbes.

Currently funded proposal: Organic Sulfur Cycling in Low Sulfur Environments 

Water column 

Here we are generally interested in how microbial populations fluctuate over time, the biogeochemical roles of these microbes and the general biogeography patterns of these populations. In many large lakes, microbes must overcome the extremes of oligotrophy. We are interested in understanding, from a genomic and physiological perspective, how these organisms acquire nutrients to meet the constraints of cellular stoichiometry. 

Currently funded proposal: Coupled Iron and Carbon cycles in Ferruginous Lakes

Subsurface Microbiology

Here we are interested in the dynamics of microbial populations living deep in Earth's crust. Here, my lab is interested in how microorganisms make a living metabolically in these environments. Currently, we are leveraging data generated from the Census of Deep Life and have started a new NSF funded 5 year investigation of Soudan Iron mine. 

Currently funded proposal: Banded together water-microbe mineral interactions

Algal Biology

Here we are generally interested in what triggers blooms to transition into toxicity. It is certain that nutrient availability (P and N) can drive toxin production. However, other elements or microbe-microbe interactions may be at play. Thus, we are interested in understanding, what species are present, what is the genomic capability for toxin production, the timing of toxin gene expression and ultimately whether the toxin is excreted. Collaborators: Dr. Andrew Bramburger, Dr. Chris Filstrip, Dr. Kathryn Schriener and Dr. John Downing.

Working with Dr. Kathryn Schriener and Dr. Jessica Sieber, WRS PhD student Gage Sachs is busy elucidating how diatoms associated with winter ice produce highly branched isoprenoid lipids. These lipids are commonly used in climate reconstruction from the sedimentary record. Yet little work has focused on the mechanisms for production. Additionally, these lipids are potential targets for biodiesel additives, as they help prevent gelling during winter.