Ecology of freshwater Verrucomicrobia, an abundant yet understudied bacterial phylum
University of Michigan
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Since the advent of molecular techniques to describe bacterial diversity, recognized bacterial phyla have increased from an original 11 to now over 70; one of these newer classifications is Verrucomicrobia, which was first recognized as a phylum in 1997. Species of this group have been found to be involved in a variety of metabolic processes, including nitrogen fixation, methane oxidation, and complex carbon breakdown. The majority of Verrucomicrobia studies have been conducted in soil, where they are a ubiquitous and abundant group. They were first observed and later isolated from aquatic systems; however, very few freshwater studies have been conducted, and much remains to be learned about these bacteria. I will use molecular data to explore the diversity and distribution of Verrucomicrobia in 15 Michigan freshwater lakes of varying scales, physicochemical dynamics, and productivity levels. I will complement molecular analysis of seasonal and spatial microbial community samples with physical and geochemical data to help elucidate the drivers of Verrucomicrobia diversity and abundance. I hope my project will provide novel insight into the ecology of freshwater lineages of this abundant, yet understudied phylum.