Principles of Microbial Community Structure and Function in Anaerobic Ecosystems
Fluorescent image of microbes grown on chitin
Microbial communities play essential roles in the energy and elemental cycling across ecosystems. They often are comprised of hundreds or thousands of members that hierarchically assemble in space and time. In the Orphan lab, we aim to derive principles that drive microbial community assembly so as to enable better predictions of carbon flux and community resilience in anaerobic ecosystems? From top-down, we manipulate the chemical conditions in situ and study changes in community structure and function across space and time. From the bottom-up, we construct functional communities using culturable species and explore the origins and consequences of metabolic interactions at the molecular, cellular, and population level. Currently, we use these approaches to investigate several microbial processes: 1) anaerobic degradation of organic particles (e.g.chitin), 2) anaerobic nitrogen fixation, and 3) metabolic transitions at the aerobic-anaerobic interface.