Lennon Lab
Microbial Ecology
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Research Projects
 


Terrestrial carbon subisides in aquatic ecosystems
Terrestrial ecosystems export large quantities of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) to nearby aquatic ecosystems. This DOC is a microbial resource that can determine whether aquatic systems function as sources or sinks of atmospheric CO2. We are conducting whole system DOC additions at the KBS Experimental Pond Facility to determine how these spatial subsides influence ecosystem stability. This work is part of a collaboration with Stuart Jones.

 


Microbial dormancy
Dormancy is a bet-hedging strategy where organisms enter a reversible state of low metabolic activity. In clinical and environmental settings, microbes are capable of using dormancy as a way to contend with unfavorable conditions. We have been using simulation modeling and molecular tools to better understand how dormancy and environmental cues strucutre microbial communities. This work is part of a collaboration with Stuart Jones.

 


Ecology and evolution of viruses
Viruses are the most abundant biological entities on Earth. They are obligately parasitic, and therefore can have strong negative effects on their host populations, which can utlimately influnece evolutionary and ecoystem-level dynamics. In collaboration with Steve Wilhelm, we are exploring eco-evolutionary interactions between freshwater and marine cyanobacteria (Synechococcus) and their phage. This work is part of Megan Larsen's Ph.D. thesis.

 


Plant-soil feedbacks
Belowground microorganisms can have important implications for the distribution, divesity, and productivity of aboveground plant communities. In collaboration with Jen Lau, we have been using rapid cylcling Brassica populations to explore how soil microbes influence the ecological and evolutionary responses of plants to abioitc stressors (i.e., drought).

 


Generalist and specialist resource utillization
An age-old question is ecology is how so many species can coexist on seemingly so few resources. In microbial systems, one explanation is that bacteria can partition resources via different metabolic pathways. In collaboration with Steve Hamilton,we are exploring the niche breadth and phylogenetic breadth of aquatic bacteria on different sources of phophorus. This work is part of Kali Bird's Ph.D. thesis.

 


Microbial traits along environmental gradients
A major goal of microbial ecology is to understand how community structure influences ecosystem functioning. We are attempting to address this goal by identifying functional traits of soil bacteria along important environmental gradients (e.g., moisture). This work is part of a collaboration with Zach Aanderud, Don Schoolmaster, and Chris Klausmeier.