ECIMMEE Project: Investigating the Microbiome of the Largest Known Bacteria
“Microbiome” is a term often given to the microbes associated with multicellular organisms, such as bacteria living in the human gut. While bacteria and archaea are known to live in association with other microbes, individual bacterial cells are not generally thought of as hosting a characteristic microbiome. My lab studies the largest known bacteria, Thiomargarita spp. These giant bacteria are involved in the biogeochemical cycling of carbon, sulfur, nitrogen, and phosphorus. They are also known for their involvement in the precipitation of calcium phosphate mineral deposits on the seafloor that are an important source of phosphorus for modern agriculture. Individual Thiomargarita cells can approach a millimeter in diameter, making them large enough to host extensive populations of other bacterial cells. New observations and molecular analyses suggest that smaller cells living in close association with Thiomargarita are important for the ecologies, physiologies, and biogeochemical influences of these giant bacteria. Interactions between Thiomargarita and other bacteria, as well as the biogeochemical influences they catalyze, will be investigated using a variety of interdisciplinary approaches ranging from genomics to geochemistry.
Bailey is an interdisciplinary scientist who combines approaches from microbiology and the earth sciences to investigate interactions between the biosphere and geosphere, as well as to study the ecologies and physiologies of microorganisms that are involved in geobiological processes. Bailey is an assistant professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Southern California prior to receiving an Agouron Institute Geobiology Fellowship to support his postdoctoral research at Caltech. Bailey is an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellow, University of Minnesota McKnight Land Grant Professor, and recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER grant.