We’re interested in understanding how microbial eukaryotes – a.k.a ‘protists’ – have evolved to thrive in low-oxygen environments.
Low-oxygen environments are important ecosystems that host diverse microbial communities. The interactions between these microbes can have major environmental impacts to global geochemical carbon, nitrogen and sulfur cycles. Moreover, the interactions between these microbes in the anaerobic digestive tracts of animals can have major health and veterinary consequences.
Living without oxygen can be challenging. To survive in such environments, some organisms work together using metabolic syntrophy – a type of mutualistic symbiosis where there is a metabolic division of labour amongst individuals in a community. We know that metabolic syntrophy is common among anaerobic prokaryotes, but less is known about the role of syntrophy in the survival of microbial eukaryotes in these environments.
My research programme will discover and characterize protist:microbe interactions from diverse anaerobic environments including anoxic marine and freshwater sediments and the animal gut.