Dra. Patricia M. Valdespino Castillo

Biogeochemistry at the extremes: integrating structure and function of microbial extremophile assemblages across scales

Microbes have been responsible for most of Earth´s biogeochemical cycling; their adaptation and/or resilience to environmental change will shape the future of ecosystems function. More specifically, microbial capabilities for carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycling, and their survival strategies including the production of metabolites, might change as a response to environmental change. Extremophiles provide useful models to study these processes.

While we have started to trace biogeochemical transformations from genes to biomes, the gap in the middle constitutes a black box that will require interdisciplinary efforts in order to be clarified. Our knowledge of physical chemistry, cell physiology, structural biology, ecological interactions and evolution should be integrated to understand and predict ecosystem function in the countdown of planetary change. To address these research questions, in this presentation I will attempt to leap across scales (presenting explorations from nanometric to ecosystem scale) to better understand the role of microbes in biogeochemical transformations.