I am a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas. My research aims to understand the lifestyle of microorganisms by assembling and analyzing bacterial genomes from metagenomes. More specifically, I am interested in understanding the relationship between the community structure and functional potential of microbial communities as well as their role in biogeochemical nutrient cycles in extreme environments (that for example face steep temperature gradients).
I am a biologist with a background in plant sciences, microbiology and (self-trained) bioinformatics. I graduated in plant genetics and during my PhD obtained an additional background in microbiology working on the interaction of mutualistic bacteria with plants using plant-growth assays and 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. Currently, I am complementing my bioinformatic skills by diving deeper into the bioinformatic world (binning genomes from metagenomes) to be able to better understand the functional potential underlying microbial interactions.
Current research questions:
- How are microbial communities structured = how strong affect environmental driving cues the assembly of microbial communities?
- How can we use ‘OMICs’ to better understand the functional diversity encoded in microorganisms?
- What is the genetic potential of microbes that take part in major biogeochemical nutrient cycles (i.e. fueling the carbon pump) and how are is this potential affected by environmental changes?
Where I come from:
I did my PhD at the Max-Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne. There, I investigated the structure of rhizosphere and root-bacterial communities of Arabis alpina (16S rRNA amplicon sequencing) and investigated the effect of bacteria on plant-growth.
The research questions of my PhD were:
- How are bacterial communities affected by their surroundings/ what determines how bacterial communities assemble on plant roots
(i.e. plant species, soil type, flowering time…)?
- What is the effect of synthetic bacterial communities on plant growth?