Mike moves on to a postdoc in the Coleman Lab

Mike is leaving us to join Maureen Coleman’s lab at the University of Chicago beginning in 2020. We’re thrilled that he has cultivated (pun intended) such an excellent opportunity and look forward to seeing the great work that comes from his time in the Coleman Lab. Mike leaves behind an impressive legacy: over 400 axenic cultures from a diverse set of coastal bacterioplankton groups, including LD12 and other SAR11 subclades; a well-trained cadre of students who can all thank him for helping them achieve their level of proficiency; numerous upgraded techniques and protocols; and of course several excellent manuscripts. Mike had three first-author publications before he graduated, one this year, and will likely have two more from his dissertation research (stay tuned for more as good stuff is on the way, and see the Publications page for details). The isolates he generated are also the basis for several upcoming papers from other students in the lab like Celeste and Jordan. We are all in your debt Mike, and no one more than me. Your hard work and dedication during your time in the lab was massively instrumental to our success thus far, and the results of your efforts here will carry forward for many years. Thank you from all of us, and best of luck in your new position.

Welcome Chuankai to the lab!

Extending a warm welcome to Chuankai Cheng, our newest Ph.D. student, who has just started as an MBBO student this semester. Chuankai did a Masters with Bernhard Palsson at USCD, and has published a stimulating paper modeling overflow metabolism in E. coli from that work. He also has participated in developing an algorithm to cluster Hi-C data. Most recently he worked in Terry Hwa‘s lab, and is now part of our team. We’re thrilled to have you Chuankai and looking forward to some great science!

Nicole Ratib Receives a Simons Postdoctoral Fellowship!

Nicole is currently finishing her Ph.D. with Steve Finkel at USC, where she studied, among other things, the genomic signatures of evolution in a long-term extended stationary phase experiment (1200 days!) in E. coli. She wanted to switch gears for her postdoc and work on marine microorganisms. Her proposal, “Quantifying dormancy rates and controlling factors in the globally abundant bacterioplankton SAR11”, has been funded as a Simons Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in Marine Microbial Ecology. Nicole will employ a variety of advanced techniques, including fluorescence-activated cell-sorting and nanoSIMS, to investigate dormancy in one of the most important marine microbial clades, near and dear to my heart, SAR11. We’re thrilled for Nicole to join the lab, starting in January, to begin this important work. Congratulations Nicole!

Recent papers

I’m happy to say that the first half of 2019 has been fairly productive from a publishing standpoint, with five papers out so far. Both Celeste and Jordan have first-author Genome Announcements in MRA:

Lanclos, V. Celeste, Michael W. Henson, Chase Doiron, and J. Cameron Thrash. 2019. Draft Genome Sequence of Strain LSUCC0057, a Member of the SAR92 Clade of Gammaproteobacteria. Microbiology Resource Announcements 8:e00599-19. doi:10.1128/MRA.00599-19

Coelho, Jordan T., Michael W. Henson, and J. Cameron Thrash. 2019. Draft Genome Sequence of Strain LSUCC0112, a Gulf of Mexico Representative of the Oligotrophic Marine Gammaproteobacteria. Microbiology Resource Announcements 8:e00521-19. doi:10.1128/MRA.00521-19

Our first curriculum paper for the microbiology-focused Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE sections) is available at JMBE:

Bakshi, Arundhati, Austen T. Webber, Lorelei E. Patrick, E. William Wischusen, and Cameron Thrash. 2019. The CURE for Cultivating Fastidious Microbes.Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education 20(1). doi:10.1128/jmbe.v20i1.1635.

And I published a short commentary proposing that we conduct risk assessment using expected value calculations when designing and evaluating studies aimed at cultivating new microorganisms from nature:

Thrash, J. Cameron. 2019. Culturing the uncultured: risk vs. reward.mSystems 4:e00130-90. doi:10.1128/mSystems.00130-19

Finally, a third Dead Zone paper with Olivia Mason’s lab (Lauren Campbell’s second first authorship paper on the topic), in collaboration with Nancy Rabalais, is out now as well:

Campbell, Lauren G., J. Cameron Thrash, Nancy N. Rabalais, and Olivia U. Mason. 2019. Extent of the annual Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone influences microbial community structure. PLoS ONE 14(4): e0209055.

We’re recruiting Ph.D. students!

You could be here…
And anywhere here…
And here. USC at dawn just outside our building.
Or even here. A view of the main lab space and postdoc/student office shortly before move-in.

The Thrash Lab is recruiting Ph.D. students to begin in summer/fall 2020 through the USC Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography graduate program. Projects could span a variety of topics including high-throughput cultivation and genomics of new marine bacterioplankton, investigating microbial interactions with synthetic marine communities, fundamental evolutionary constraints on growth rates, biological growth efficiencies, riverine microbial ecology, and even hydrocarbon degradation. Techniques you could learn include flow-cytometry and FACS, FACS-enabled targeted cultivation, comparative (meta)genomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, aerobic and anaerobic cultivation, and possibly many others via the rich collaborative opportunities within USC and in the southern California region. 

The MBBO program admits students directly to specific labs (no rotations), so if you are interested in doing your Ph.D. with us, please contact Cameron with your project thoughts, questions, and a current CV. Also check out our personnel expectations on the Opportunities page.

Thrash Lab research at ASM

We’re heading to ASM Microbe 2019 this week and both Celeste and Mike are presenting unpublished results of their current research. Mike is giving a talk and both have posters are in the AES session on Sunday 6/23:

AES-1090: Comparative Genomics and Physiology Using New Isolates Supports Niche Differentiation within Coastal SAR11 Subclade IIIa – V. Celeste Lanclos

AES-1101: Large Scale High-Throughput Cultivation Insights into the Culturabilty and Ecosystem Functions of Important Coastal Bacterioplankton – Michael W. Henson

Mike’s talk is in S324 – Anchoring Microbes to Biogeochemical Function (Sunday 6/23 1:30-4:00pm), with a host of other excellent scientists like Kelly Wrighton, Romy Chakraborty, Alex Greenlon, Paul Carini, and Roland Hatzenpichler. Large Scale High-Throughput Cultivation Insights into the Culturabilty and Ecosystem Functions of Important Coastal Bacterioplankton – Michael W. Henson

I’ll also be co-hosting a plenary session with Kelly Wrighton on Friday 6/21: S019 – Moving Beyond the Omics Crystal Ball: Functional Validation of Genome-enabled Predictions

Mike Graduated!

Although Mike defended and had all his paperwork in for finishing his Ph.D. last year, the timing was such that he needed to wait to walk until the May graduation ceremony, which was last week on May 10th. It was a typical southern Louisiana spring morning- thunderstorms with tons of rain, followed by a steam-off as the sun roasted Baton Rouge. Everything dried out, as it always does. Mike had quite an entourage – his mother and father, brothers, sister-in-law, Celeste, Jordan, and former students Emily and Anna. I wasn’t originally scheduled to be there, but I thought I’d surprise him, and Brant Faircloth covered for me for a couple months. Congratulations Dr. Henson! We’re very proud of you and look forward to seeing all the wonderful things you’ll do moving forward.