Microbial Ecosystems

The biogeochemical transformations and ecosystem functions of the oceans are governed by the activities and interactions of marine microbial communities. For instance, microbial communities decompose organic matter in the oceans and influence global phenomena such as atmosphere–ocean carbon circulation and climate. The ecological principles governing interactions and the basic factors that control microbial growth within marine microbial communities largely remain a black box in our models of such processes.

A key objective of our research is to develop new microfluidic tools to recreate the microenvironments experienced by microbes in their natural habitats to unravel the complexity of marine microbial communities, with regards to their spatial distributions, functional interactions, and their influence on their microenvironment and vice versa. In particular, we study the ecological impacts of phytoplankton metabolic rates and body-mass scaling laws as well as microbial controls on the decomposition of organic matter in the ocean.

Funding: Simons Foundation, SNF Sinergia