Marine Microbial Food Web Organization

I am interested in marine microbial ecology, evolutionary dynamics, mathematical ecology and oceanography. Currently I am working with theortical aspects of pelagic microbial food web structure using idealized models to understand pattern- and diversity generating mechanisms. A focus in this work is how trade-offs between different life strategies, such as strong abilities to compete for limiting resources, or strong defensive abilities against viral infections or predation, are fundamental to understand microbial community structure.

Recently, I have been working on the question of what determines success in the microbial part of the pelagic food web, with a focus on the discussion of why the highly abundant SAR11 bacteria are so successful. Our research indicates that a combination of good competitive and defensive abilities among different SAR11 strains seems key to success, rather than an extreme investment into either a competitive or defensive strategy.

Besides virus-host interactions, I have also a special interest in mixotrophic organisms that combine different foraging modes and understanding when mixotrophy is a successful strategy in the ocean. Our work indicates that mixotrophs can under a variety of conditions successfully coexist with organisms that specialize in a single foraging strategy, even at high costs of mixotrophy relative to specialized foraging. These theoretical results confirm findings of highly abundant and widespread mixotrophs in different marine environments.