Deciphering the Deep: Microbial 'Dark Matter' Under the Sea
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Research interests in the Glass Lab integrate field and laboratory studies to explore connections between major and trace elements in biogeochemical cycles. The major focus of our research is characterizing novel biological and abiotic mechanisms of greenhouse gas cycling via interdisciplinary studies merging geochemistry and molecular biology. A primary goal of the lab’s funded projects is illumination of previously uncharacterized microbial aspects of methane production and consumption. Microbes are responsible for the majority of methane cycling on Earth, and methane-based metabolisms may have sustained ancient ecosystems prior to oxygenation of Earth’s atmosphere. Ongoing research is focused on elucidating microbial mechanisms of methane cycling in sediments from a tropical lake and the marine deep subsurface. The lab is also probing mechanisms and environmental controls on globally significant pathways in the nitrogen cycle, namely coupled biotic-abiotic nitrous oxide production in the modern and ancient ocean, and environmental controls on microbial nitrogen fixation in boreal peatlands. We are also investigating the influence of oxygen on microbial iron usage in low-oxygen marine ecosystems and bacterial ribosomes.