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The general goal of the research in my lab is to advance our understanding of microbial ecology and evolution in the oceans. In recent years we have focused our attention on a single group, the cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus, which is the smallest and most abundant microbe in ocean ecosystems — sometimes accounting for half of the total chlorophyll. This “minimal phototroph” can convert CO2, sunlight, and inorganic nutrients into a living cell with as few as 1700 genes.
We have been developing Prochlorococcus, and the phage that infect them, as a model system for understanding life processes across all scales of spatial and temporal organization, from the genome to the biosphere, and from daily to evolutionary time scales. In so doing, we hope to develop a unified understanding of this one small representative of the diversity of life.