Microbial diversity in the marine environment is enormous and often 1000s of different species are found in a single habitat.

We have recently postulated that much of the diversity encountered is due to chance (“lottery hypothesis”) and that bacterial communities are assembled from “guilds” of functional equivalent organisms.

Through comparative genomics, we’ve provided evidence for this hypothesis and we’re exploring which functions define particular communities in specific habitats. This project will provide an important conceptual advancement in the field of microbial ecology as it aims to define the assembly of microbial communities by functional properties rather than by the species. 



Coastal microbial observatories

Our large-scale coastal microbial observatory program investigates the temporal and spatial dynamics of microbial communities in the water column. We observe sediments and coral, seaweeds, sponges and seagrasses.

Microbial contribution to life in the deep sea

Despite the lack of sunlight and nutrients, many deep-sea environments are full of coral reefs and sponge gardens. We’re aiming to understand how the metabolic capacity and versatility of symbiotic bacteria support their growth.

The dynamics of evolution: How horizontal gene transfer

We’re attempting to define the temporal dynamics of gene transfer and how it shapes the genetic composition of entire bacterial communities.