Research Fellows Directory
Dr Cecile Gubry-Rangin
University of Aberdeen
Many of the important processes essential for life on earth and for the sustainability of our planet are performed by microbes (the Bacteria and Archaea) and are underpinned by the huge functional diversity of microbes in natural environments. This diversity has arisen through many millions of years of adaptation to environmental change. Despite the crucial importance of microbial diversity, our inability to cultivate most microbes has severely limited our understanding of the ways in which they adapt to perform new functions or maintain their metabolic activities. Recent revolutionary technological innovations potentially remove this limitation and allow us to study adaptation of microbes. The first innovation is the ability to sequence genomes of microscopic single cells extracted from the environment, allowing identification of genetic changes involved in adaptation without the need for cultivation. The second is the use of this genetic information to improve our ability to cultivate microbes, enabling physiological studies to study environmental adaptation mechanisms. This proposal aims to use these revolutionary advances to answer key questions about the mechanisms that generate this vast microbial functional diversity in nature, one of the greatest and most exciting challenges in biology.
My work focus on a microbial group, the Thaumarchaeota, which are very diverse and abundant and have enormous environmental and economic impacts because of their role in oxidising ammonia fertilisers (resulting in greenhouse gas production and annual nitrogen fertiliser losses of >$70 billion). To alleviate their enormous lack of cultures and genomic data, my project will use cutting-edge technologies to understand the ecological and evolutionary adaptation of these microbes and their contributions to global ecosystem functioning processes.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)