Determining causal relationships in microbial ecology is a major scientific challenge. In this group, our goal is to analyze the causal relationship between the specific metabolic performance of individual microbial species, the macroscopically observed metabolic conversions, and the composition of the microbial community. In recent years, our work has concentrated primarily on soil ecosystems including high altitude tropical soil ecosystems (Colombian Paramo, Agroalpine Zone Ethiopia) and mangrove sediments.
We have also attempted to address these causal questions in more simplified and unusual locations such as liquid nitrogen tanks, historical manuscripts from the Middle Ages, and decaying piglet carcasses. We employ modern molecular high-throughput sequencing technologies, incorporate multivariate statistics and modeling, and complement these with innovative cultivation techniques comprising high-throughput assays, improved media, dilution culture, co-cultivation, biofilm growth and chemotaxis assays.