Our general perspective
Microbial life has been integral to the history and function of life on Earth for over 3.5 billion years. As such, microbes have evolved to be the fundamental engines that drive the cycles of energy and matter on Earth, past and present. Additionally, microbes are the single largest source of evolutionary and biochemical diversity on the planet. Despite this significance, our understanding of the evolution and ecology, and the structure and function of natural microbial communities has been limited both conceptually and methodologically. Yet the potential of this vast reservoir of genetic and biochemical diversity is enormous, from the perspective of both basic knowledge creation, as well as synthetic applications. For these reasons, a major focus of our lab centers on devising and applying new approaches to understand the structure, function and activity of natural microbial assemblages in the environment.
What we do
Our lab is currently engaged in applying genomic and related technologies to dissect the structure, function, and environmental responsiveness of microbial assemblages. Genomic information – at the level of the genome, the transcriptome, and the proteome - can now be rapidly and generically extracted from microbial communities found in natural habitats. For the first time, its become possible to “take the pulse” of naturally occurring microbes, which collectively are the major engines of matter and energy transformation on Earth. Our main aim is to better describe and predict the genetic, biochemical, and metabolic potential and community interactions that define microbial communities and their surrounding environment Our central focus is on marine systems, due to the fundamental environmental significance of the oceans, as well their suitability for enabling development of new technologies, methods, and theory.