Research

Harvesting the power of environmental microbiomes

Our lab is working on how microbial communities function in the environment.


Our goal is to predictably manipulate these communities towards beneficial outcomes. 

Our tasks are to determine: 

-1- Who is active ?

-2- When are they active, what are the factor controlling population dynamics?

-3- Where are the active microbes, how are they spatially distributed?

 

Soil Microbiome

Soil microbiomes, a.k.a. microbial communities are extremely diverse. In each gram of material billions of cells work together in the heterogenous soil matrix.

A better understanding of the soil microbiomes could help us manipulate these communities and the processes they control such as nutrients cycling.

We are interested in studying microbial communities in situ and to probe active microbes to reveal who is active when and how do microbes talk to each other !

We used advanced molecular methods, next generation sequencing and in situ imagery techniques.

Harvesting Crop Field
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Biocrust

BIOCRUST also called biological soil crust are top soils that populate arid land, covering 12% of continental areas. There they are responsible of soil fertility and soil stability.
We study biocrusts and how these microbial communities will answer to climate change. We used biocrusts as a model system to understand the relationship of microbes in a soil microbiome.
We use an interdisciplinary approach involving molecular ecology, isolation and culture of microorganisms and various type of imagery techniques.

Geomicrobiology

We are also interested to understand the relationship between microbes and their physico-chemical environment in the soil of on rock surfaces.

Using a combination of techniques including spectroscopies, microscopies and molecular ecology we study how microbial processes affect the organic and inorganic parts of the matrix they colonize.

Our model system are euendolithic cyanobacteria that we cultivate in the lab. These microbes are able to actively dissolve mineral carbonate and live inside the rock.

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Ecosystem Science and Management

The Pennsylvania State University

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