February 27, 2021

The Orphan Lab's multidisciplinary research program spans the interface between environmental microbiology, geochemistry, and geology. Through the integrated application of environmental 'omics approaches, stable isotope analysis, and imaging, our group is characterizing the interspecies interactions and ecological physiology of archaea, bacteria, and viruses linked to the cycling of methane, sulfur, nitrogen, and metals in ocean sediments and extreme environments.

Anaerobic oxidation of methane and archaeal-bacterial syntrophy
What are the energy distribution and nutritional dependencies at the spatial scale in ANME-SRB consortia? What is the metabolic and physiological adaptation of SRB in this syntrophic partnership?
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Microbial ecology and biogeochemistry of methane seeps and vents
What are the temporal and spatial dynamics of methane seeps? Can carbonate endolithic communities provide an insight into the history of the seep? How do endolithic communities at seeps and vents compare? What is the role of microbial communities at hydrothermal vents in biogeochemical cycles?
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Viral ecology in marine environments: sediments, seeps, deep ocean
Which viruses are present in methane seep environments? How do their capsid sizes and shapes vary across the methane concentration gradient? To what extent does capsid size correspond to viral genome size? What are the temporal and spatial dynamics of host-phage interactions in the environment? What are the roles of viruses in microbial growth, metabolism and mortality?
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Principles of microbial community structure and function in anaerobic ecosystems
How do terminal electron acceptors influence microbial assembly for the degradation of complex carbon? How does energy availability affect the biodiversity and resilience of an ecosystem? How does microbial response to environmental fluctuations at the cellular level give rise to ecosystem-scale patterns of elemental fluxes?
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Blue carbon sequestration in anaerobic seagrass sediments
How do microbial communities in coastal seagrass sediments sequester plant-based carbon in anoxic sediments? What are the ecological controls on the microbial production of methane in these systems?
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Life in extreme environments
How does the introduction of in-situ pressure affect the metabolic activity of microorganisms from deep ocean methane seep sediment under laboratory conditions? What is the genetic diversity of microbes found at deep ocean environments?
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