ECIMMEE Project: The role of marine microbial plasticity in evolution and biogeochemistry
Marine microbes are the engines of global biogeochemical cycling in the oceans. They are responsible for approximately half of all photosynthesis on the planet and drive the ‘biological pump,’ which transfers organic carbon from the surface to the deep ocean. Therefore, it is important to determine how marine microbes will adapt and evolve to a changing climate in order to understand and predict how the global carbon cycle may change, and predict pivotal feedback responses that might impact future climate states. This work focuses on developing a mechanistic understanding of how marine microbes respond to environmental fluctuations, and exploring how these individual-scale responses can result in large-scale ecosystem shifts and ecosystem-climate feedback loops. Untangling the complex interactions between climate and biology requires pioneering interdisciplinary approaches. The research will integrate ecological and evolutionary theory, and biological, chemical, and physical observations with innovative numerical ecosystem models, to gain new insight into the relationship between plasticity and evolution in marine microbial ecosystems.
Naomi Levine is a Gabilan Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences and Earth Sciences at the University of Southern California. She received her B.A. in Geosciences from Princeton University and her Ph.D. in Chemical Oceanography from the MIT-WHOI Joint Program. Naomi’s interest in the interactions between fluctuating environments and ecosystem dynamics led her to join Paul Moorcroft’s lab at Harvard University as a NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellow. In 2013, Naomi joined the faculty at USC, where she holds joint appointments in Marine and Environmental Biology, Molecular and Computational Biology, and Earth Sciences. Her research focuses on understanding the interactions between climate and marine microbial ecosystem composition and function. The Levine lab is developing novel modeling approaches that explicitly represent the response of dynamic microbial communities to a variable and changing environment. Naomi is the recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship in Ocean Sciences.