Growing Cultures

The unicellular marine Cyanobacteria Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus are closely related genera that are extremely abundant in open ocean waters and account for a significant portion of global primary production.  Both groups consist of multiple physiological and genetic types.   We are using parts of the ribosomal RNA operon as a neutral marker to investigate the phylogenetic relationships of strains within each genus, and attempt to correlate the genetic diversity with observed physiological diversity.  We have developed real-time quantitative PCR assays to specifically enumerate ecotypes of both Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus in natural samples.  By examining the distributions of the different ecotypes over a variety of seasonal and spatial scales we hope to understand the environmental factors that have driven the genetic differentiation we observe. 

Specific Projects:

Identification, enumeration and biogeography of ecotypes of Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus (led by Nathan Ahlgren, in collaboration with Jill Sohm and Eric Webb)

Diversity of bacterial communities in a seasonally hypoxic fjord, Hood Canal Washington, using 454 tag sequencing (part of International Census Of Marine Microbes, in collaboration with Claire Horner-Devine)

Biogeography of the uncultured marine heterotrophic protist group MAST-4 (led by Raquel Rodriquez-Martinez, in collaboration with Ramon Massana)