Microbial partners of cable bacteria
Cable bacteria are long filamentous microorganisms that act as electrical conductors in aquatic sediments providing a conduit for rapid electron transport from sulfide-generating horizons up to the oxic surface. These bacteria have been observed in freshwater, estuarine, and marine sediments globally, often at extremely high cell densities. Where these bacteria are abundant, such as in coastal marine sediments, they can drive intense localized changes in pH and strongly influence the cycling of oxygen, sulfur, iron, and other nutrient cycles. My collaborator Sairah Malkin from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and I are funded through a National Science Foundation grant to investigate how cable bacteria shape bacterial communities by manipulating their environment and how these community impacts shape carbon and sulfur cycling in these sediments. Our project builds on a recent discovery showing the activity of chemoautotrophic bacteria at anoxic depths relies on cable bacteria activity.
Impact of terrestrial chemicals on aquatic microbial communities
Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) have been a significant problem in the western basin of Lake Erie since the late 1990s and have been significantly increasing in severity over the last decade. Numerous studies suggest nutrient loading as the result of runoff from agricultural fields is responsible for the blooms, but reductions in fertilizer application in recent years has not yielded the expected impact. Our lab is undertaking two projects, supported through grants from the the United States Geological Survey/Ohio Water Resources Center studying the breakdown of glyphosate as well as Ohio Department of Higher Education Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative, investigating the impact of alternate agriculturally applied chemicals of HAB severity and toxicity.