The Thrash lab is oriented around testing hypotheses about the relationships between microorganisms and biogeochemical cycles, particularly in aquatic systems. The lab takes a two-pronged approach to achieve this: 1. Using cultivation independent techniques (e.g., metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, and single-cell genomics) to make observations about a system and develop hypotheses about which organisms are doing what, and 2. cultivation of microorganisms, and microbial genomics, to query those identified by cultivation independent techniques as being numerically dominant, capable of important metabolisms, highly active, or containing genes of interest. We combine these data with chemical and physical information from the environment to piece together why microorganisms occur where they do and why.
Establishing a microbial culture collection at LSU (LSUCC) and surveying Southern Louisiana coastal microbial communities
The lab is systematically collecting samples from several sites across the Southern Louisiana coastline for high throughput cultivation (HTC) experiments. This survey also includes measuring water chemistry and the microbial communities of the source water to evaluate cultivation efficacy and refine our defined media recipes. Associated Award: “A Microbial High Throughput Culturing Laboratory at LSU.” Louisiana Board of Regents Research Competitiveness Subprogram
Microbial ecology of the Northern Gulf of Mexico “dead zone”
This is collaborative work with Nancy Rabalais at LUMCON and Olivia Mason at Florida State University. We are using a wide range of cultivation-independent techniques to learn about the microbial communities and genetics associated with the generation and maintenance of seasonal bottom water hypoxia on the Northern Gulf of Mexico shelf region (see lab blog entries for 2013 and 2014 cruise information). Associated Award: “Cultivation independent assessment of microbial communities in the Gulf of Mexico dead zone.” Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, Oak Ridge Associated Universities.
Microbial ecology of the Mississippi River in coordination with OAR Northwest in a citizen science and education program. A series of full-length Mississippi River transects has begun and you can read about the science HERE. A promotional video from the 2014 season: