JGI - CSP (2020 - 2022)

Elucidating the role of Bacteriophage Lifestyle strategy in Microbially-Mediated Perennial Rhizosphere Nitrogen Transformations - collaborative research.

PI(s): Richard Allen White III (Lead), Maren L Friesen (Co-I, WSU), Lisa Tiemann (Co-I, MSU), SarahEvans (Co-I, MSU).

Viruses are highly abundant and play key roles in global biogeochemistry. This project will connect the virome and microbiome to nitrogen cycling in perennial bioenergy cropping systems on marginal lands. The project will leverage an existing field experiment with time-series sampling of the switchgrass rhizosphere. The project will test hypotheses linking nutrient cycling to viral lifestyle, and hypotheses about trade-offs between host growth rate and resistance to infection. Understanding viruses in the rhizosphere will allow better management of the microbiome for sustainability.

Link to grant
NASA Exobiology

Viral lifestyle mediates lithification of microbial mats: implication for preservation of Earth’s oldest ecosystems - collaborative research.

PI(s): Richard Allen White III (PI, UNCC), Pieter Visscher (Co-I, UConn), Brendan Burns (Co-I,UNSW), Maren L Friesen (Co-I, WSU).

We will link viral properties, activity and viral-encoded genes to microbial host metabolism, itsexopolymeric matrix and biogeochemistry in the transition from non-lithified microbial mat to lithifiedmicrobialite. The profound impact modern microbialites (i.e., stromatolites and thrombolites) have as the ‘sign-posts’ of life on Earth requires a comprehensive mechanistic understanding of their formation to link contemporary biotic (including viral) processes to the geological record.

Australian Research Council (ARC)

Symbiotic origin of the eukaryotic cell - collaborative research

PI(s): Brendan Burns (PI, UNSW), Anja Spang (Co-I, UNSW), Pieter Visscher (Co-I, UConn), Richard Allen White III (Co-I, UNCC)

This project aims to uncover the role of unique archaea (Asgards) in the origin of eukaryotes. One of the most significant and contentious issues in biology is the origin of complex life. The stromatolites in Shark Bay are analogues of early life and harbor an abundance of Asgard archaea. This research is significant as the traditional tree of life is in flux and this project expects to generate insights into fundamental aspects of evolution.