focus: Extremes


Extreme Environments Research in the Sullivan Lab

As exciting as the oceans, soils and humans are for studying viruses in complex communities, there is also value in understanding viral roles in more extreme environments. To this end, we study viruses across a diversity of systems as follows:
– glacial ice to track viral speciation over 10s to 100s of thousands of years (w/ OSU’s Byrd Polar CRC)
– corals and their overlying waters to assess the impact on coral ecosystems (Tara Pacific)
– the deep sea and the deepest ocean trenches to evaluate community structure and transport (w/ Malaspina and Shijie Bei)
– current and ancient brines to assess gene flow and extremophiles (w/ UW)
– oxygen minimum zones to evaluate viral roles impacting these climate-sensitive ocean regions

Key research Qs are largely very basic and exploratory at this stage as virtually nothing is known. These projects are supported through a DOE JGI Community Sequencing Program.


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Recent publications in extreme environments research
Lab members involved in extremes research
Field work in extremes research


Extremes Research Feature

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Recent Extremes Publications

  • Planes, S., Allemand, D., Agostini, S., Banaigs, B., Boissin, E., Boss, E., Bourdin, G., Bowler, C., Douville, E., Flores, J.M., Forcioli, D., Furla, P., Galand, P.E., Ghiglione, J.F., Gilson, E., Lombard, F., Moulin, C., Pesant, S., Poulain, J., Reynaud, S., Romac, S., Sullivan, M.B., Sunagawa, S., Thomas, O.P., Troublé, R., de Vargas, C., Thurber, R.V., Voolstra, C.R., Wincker, P., Zoccola, D., & the Tara Pacific Consortium. 2019. The Tara Pacific expedition—A pan-ecosystemic approach of the “-omics” complexity of coral reef holobionts across the Pacific Ocean. PLoS Biology. 17(9):e3000483. LINK PDF
  • Zhong, Z., Solonenko, N.E., Gazitúa, M.C., Kenny, D.V., Mosley-Thompson, E., Rich, V.I., Van Etten, J.L., Thompson, L.G.^ & Sullivan, M.B.^ 2018. Clean low-biomass procedures and their application to ancient ice core microorganisms. Frontiers in Microbiology. 9:1094.  (^ denotes co-corresponding authors) LINK   PDF

Extremes Researchers


Field Work in Extremes Research

Deep Hypersaline Pools

Buried 3,000m deep beneath the eastern Mediterannean Sea are extreme hypersaline pools that are saturated with either 5M NaCl or 6M MgCl2). Remarkably, microbial life exists here and functions, and scientists at the Institute for Coastal Marine Environment (IAMC) in Italy have figured out how sample not only within these hypersaline pools, but also with incredible accuracy (10s of centimeters) across the *interface* between the deep seawater and hypersaline pool waters. We hope to develop methods to create viral concentrates and metagenomic libraries from these challenging samples.