We study the evolution and ecology of marine bacteria and phytoplankton. We use a variety of approaches in the lab; physiological (growth experiments and pigment analyses), molecular (quantitative PCR, sequencing and expression assays) and computational (phylogenetic analyses, comparative genomics). A major focus of the lab are the unicellular marine Cyanobacteria Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus, closely related genera that are extremely abundant in open ocean waters and account for a significant portion of global primary production. We also study the toxic diatom Pseudo-nitzschia, and are developing a virus-host system to understand the role viral lysis may play in the outbreak or supression of toxic blooms.
The multiple projects in the lab all address common questions: How does genetic diversity arise in marine microbial populations, how is it maintained, and how does it influence ecological success.