In the nutrient rich regions surrounding living phytoplankton cells, bacteria transform recently fixed carbon through the uptake and catabolism of metabolites. Understanding the rules by which marine bacterial communities assemble around and interact with phytoplankton, and how these rules affect the fate of ocean carbon, is the goal of the research in the Moran laboratory. Mechanisms underlying the ecological linkages among microbes are being addressed. Data are generated using laboratory model systems consisting of simple microbial communities, and in field studies with natural marine communities. Molecular approaches that query the species in microbial communities and their pattern of gene expression are central tools in building an understanding of the surface ocean microbiome.
Mary Ann Moran is a marine microbial ecologist in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Georgia. She earned a degree in biology at Colgate University and an M.S. in natural resources at Cornell University. She obtained a Ph.D. in ecology at the University of Georgia in 1987, where she became a member of the marine sciences faculty in 1993.
Dr. Moran’s research focuses on marine bacteria in the global carbon and sulfur cycles, with particular interest in bacterial roles in the formation and flux of climatically active gases. Moran is a leader in the integration of molecular biology methods into microbial ecology studies. Coastal marine bacterium Ruegeria pomeroyi was isolated by her laboratory in 1998 and has since developed into an important model organism for physiological and genetic studies of ocean processes. More recently, Moran’s research has centered on the diverse pool of metabolites passing between members of the surface ocean microbiome. Moran is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Microbiology.