Microorganisms collectively shape the chemistry of our planet, and have for billions of years. Understanding the activity and metabolic capabilities of microbes in the modern environment is therefore critical to understanding the history of the Earth, as well as the future of our climate.
The Dekas Lab focuses on understanding the microbiology and biogeochemistry of the deep sea: the largest and least explored habitat on the surface of our planet. We investigate the diversity, distribution and activity of marine bacteria and archaea driving carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur cycling, with a focus on processes directly and indirectly involved in the production and consumption of greenhouse gases (e.g. CH4, CO2 and N2O). Using techniques from both molecular biology and isotope geochemistry, we answer questions such as: (1) “who” is doing “what” (linking phylogenetic identity to physiological function), (2) what are the biogeochemical controls on metabolic rates, (3) how do specific metabolisms affect global scale biogeochemical cycles and climate, and (4) will these metabolisms act as a positive or negative feedback to climate change?