Microbial Ecology Lab
Dr. Bopi Biddanda
The microbial ecology and biogeochemistry laboratory is focused on understanding the role microorganisms play in mediating ecosystem processes in the Great Lakes. Of particular interest is the influence of seasonal and climatic changes, land use, and geology on the microbial community and physiology in watersheds, drowned river mouths, estuaries, and nearshore zones of the Great Lakes. In addition, we are also interested in the impact of key stressors to aquatic environments that lead to unhealthy conditions such as hypoxia, algal/cyanobacterial blooms, and reduced water quality.
In recent decades, there has been an explosion of ideas and research regarding the importance of microbial life on our planet. It is now widely recognized that inconspicuous microbes drive many ecosystem level processes (including bulk of aquatic metabolism) thereby regulating the movement of energy and materials through ecosystems. Another recent finding of importance has been the observation that even very large lakes (such as Lake Michigan) benefit from substantial terrestrial subsidies, indicating close linkages between land and water everywhere. Knowing how land, water and the atmosphere link together, and how microorganisms respond to changes in these linkages, are critical to our understanding of how energy and materials (including carbon and pollutants) circulate in a rapidly changing world. Aquatic carbon is a key element that influences aquatic ecosystems and is also a major reservoir of reactive carbon in the biosphere.