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Welcome to Our Lab

Welcome to the Marine Microbial Ecology Group of the University of California, Santa Cruz. We are interested in how microorganisms control the availability of nitrogen in the marine environment. Take a look around our website to learn more about what we do.

Primary productivity in the marine environment is often limited by low concentrations of bioavailable (or “fixed”) nitrogen. Organisms that can perform nitrogen fixation, or diazotrophs, can therefore be important members of the ocean ecosystem providing the nutrients which support ocean food webs. Our lab studies the ecology, activity and distribution of these marine microbes using molecular techniques such as qPCR,  ddPCR, and amplicon sequencing targeting one of the genes responsible for nitrogen fixation, nitrogenase (specifically the nifH gene). 


In addition to field studies of marine diazotrophs, our lab performs laboratory based investigations into the biology of nitrogen fixation. Braarudosphaera bigelowii is the first example of a eukaryotic organism capable of nitrogen fixation, but it is not the only association between diazotrophs and eukaryotic algae. Our lab is interested in the biological underpinnings of such associations, and using B. bigelowii as a model we study nitroplast biology using modern biological techniques including genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics. 

Marine Microbial Group in Action

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