Department: Land Resources & Environmental Sciences
University System: Montana State University - Bozeman
I am a microbial ecologist interested in understanding the composition, structure and function of microbial communities. My research has been focused mainly on relatively simple hot spring microbial mat communities, which are excellent and very tractable model systems from which to glean fundamentals of microbial community ecology. For instance, much of our recent work has addressed (i) understanding the molecular dimension of microbial species and how horizontal gene flow complicates their demarcation, (ii) inferring from metagenomic data the functional potential of taxa that are roughly equivalent to guilds, (iii) developing hypotheses about metabolic interactions among guilds and (iv) testing these hypotheses using stable isotope probing in conjunction with metaproteomic analyses. I am also very interested in the basis for niche differentiation among species, which I am currently investigating through comparative analysis of genome sequences of cyanobacterial isolates and mat metagenomes from various temperature-defined ecotones. Finally, I have applied the principles learned in these studies to investigate the ecology of hydrocarbon-degrading soil bacteria.