Mathematical Biology Seminar

William Brazelton
Department of Biology, University of Utah

Attempting a quantitative approach to the microbial ecology of hydrogen-fueled subsurface ecosystems

Wednesday, October 2, 2013, at 3:05pm
JTB 320

Until recently, the measure of microbial diversity has been limited by our technological tools for detecting and distinguishing different kinds of microorganisms. With the advent of affordable large-scale sequencing of environmental DNA, our ability to measure microbial diversity may be limited now by our mathematical tools for modeling the nature of microbial diversity. I will discuss three basic problems of measuring microbial diversity: 1) Constraining the apparent near-infinite richness of microbial species. 2) Assembling random environmental DNA sequences into coherent genomes (i.e. metagenomics). 3) Building models of ecological interactions by integrating DNA sequence data with environmental data. I will highlight each problem with examples from my research on subsurface, hydrogen-fueled microbial ecosystems.