Our lab studies the generation and maintenance of microbial diversity and its consequences for ecosystem functioning. In the past, we have focused on characterizing patterns of microbial diversity (biogeographic patterns). We are now turning our attention to experimentally testing the evolutionary and ecological mechanisms generating these patterns and whether this variation in microbial composition affects ecosystem functioning.
We study all sorts of microbes such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi in a variety of ecosystems. Depending on the question, we also apply a range of approaches, including experimental evolution, field experiments, and greenhouse microcosms. We often use molecular genetic approaches to characterize microbial diversity (from PCR and cloning to whole genome sequencing and functional metagenomics), with the goal of linking this genetic diversity to phenotypic traits and ecosystem functioning.