Physiologic and genomic diversity of marine archaea
Collaborators: Chris Dupont (JCVI), Mak Saito (WHOI)
Funding: NSF Biological Oceanography
A major focus of our lab is the cultivation of previously uncultured marine archaea. Enrichment cultures of archaea that can carry out the first step of nitrification by oxidizing ammonia (NH3) to nitrite (NO2-) are a powerful tool for learning about what controls this process in the environment, how ammonia-oxidizing archaea interact with other microorganisms, and understanding the evolution of ammonia oxidation. Our lab houses a unique culture collection of ammonia-oxidizing archaea from the open ocean. We have used the cultures to describe the stable isotopic signature of nitrite produced by archaea and to show that they can produce the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O). We are using a combination of molecular techniques (including genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics) and traditional physiology to understand how these archaea have expanded to become such ubiquitous and abundant members of the microbial world.
Thanks to Paul Carini for pointing out this recent Nature editorial about the importance of microbial cultivation.
A story about marine archaea and our research written for non-scientists recently appeared on Science News for Students.