PriME Project: Genetic and Chemical Basis of Bacterial Community Assembly in Phycospheres
Microbes govern the cycling of virtually all elements critical to life on Earth. They conduct their work as communities: multi-species collections of cells interconnected through chemicals that play roles as substrates for growth and as avenues of communication. As part of the multidisciplinary THE-ME collaboration, we will investigate the ecological and metabolic connections between members of microbial communities, providing experimental data for the development and testing of theoretical principles and mathematical models that address the rules governing community composition. Research will focus on the bacterial communities that assemble around phytoplankton cells in the oceans, regions where high substrate and nutrient levels promote interactions between cells. Topics to be investigated include how the suites of chemicals released by microbes, the ratios of their chemical components, and their supply rates to cells affect the establishment and function of microbial communities.
Mary Ann Moran is a Distinguished Professor in the department of marine sciences at the University of Georgia. She earned her B.A. degree at Colgate University in 1977, her M.S. at Cornell University in 1982, and her Ph.D. at the University of Georgia in 1987. She joined the University of Georgia faculty in 1993. Moran’s research focuses on the genetic and ecological underpinnings of bacterial sulfur and carbon cycling in the ocean, with the goal of understanding the roles of marine bacteria in the productivity of the ocean and the formation and flux of climatically active gases. Her research uses molecular microbial ecology and ecological genomics approaches to explore bacterial processes and their regulation. Moran is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Microbiology, and she is a recipient of the American Society for Microbiology’s D.C. White Research and Mentoring Award.