Our lab works on the evolution of symbiosis using both experimental and theoretical approaches.  


News/Recent Work

• Welcome to Noah Kilonzo, a new graduate student in the lab! (His profile will be up soon)

• Nguyen TM et al. (2024)

“Metatranscriptomes of Two Biological Soil Crust Types from Mojave Desert in Response to Wetting”

Microbiology Resource Announcements e01080-23.

dae·mon   /ˈdēmən/

  1. an attendant, guiding spirit or inspiring force
  2. an underlying background process that works tirelessly to perform system chores
  3. a program that lays dormant until particular conditions are met

Ancient Greek root: δαίω (daio), “to divide, to distribute destinies, to allot”

(more about this site)
The story of life on Earth has been splendidly dramatic—as gripping as any Dostoevsky or Tolstoy novel. This great story continues today, with us as audience and actors in the theater of life. New biology and ancient secrets remain yet to be discovered. As scientists, we have the great privilege of unraveling the narratives of natural history.

All living things live in context and community, and thus they are profoundly shaped by their environment and by interactions with other living things, embedded in time within a long history of life that continues to unfurl. Our lab focuses on the social lives of 'unseen' creatures — i.e., microbes. We seek to understand how microbes 'symbiose' or interact in a persistent fashion and form stable communities that perform defined functions, and yet evolve and adapt. We are particularly fond of studying how fungi and phototrophic microbes (e.g., algae and cyanobacteria) interact and in understanding their social rules of engagement.

We believe that "creating" is a powerful way of learning and testing our understanding of the world, and that it is complementary and synergistic with the approach of "discovering" how the existing world works. As such, we attempt to both engineer synthetic microbial systems to test our ideas and to study natural microbial communities to "observe and learn;" we believe doing this iteratively is the way forward for the fields of microbial ecology and 'microbiome science' to become more predictively and insightfully useful disciplines.

  • Franken-lichen?
  • Of yeast and green yeast
  • I like'n the lichens: 'canaries in the coal mine' for air pollution
  • Working with the model 'plant-imal' in the lab...
  • Plates, oh plates!
  • Lichens are everywhere--stop and look!
  • Chlamy: green, motile, sexy
  • Of yeast and green yeast--in psychedelic (projected) 3D!
  • Hom Lab Martini with fungal-algal olive
  • So who's ready to get transferred?!
  • Oooo...swirly swirly green
  • Chlamy and yeast, BFFs in coculture
  • Beautiful microbes you find in Chile
  • Look what we found from the desert...
  • Aladdin loves to hug his tree
  • Green hair -- it's the new beauty trend
  • Lab art, courtesy of diazotrophs
  • Yep, there's green stuff growing!
  • Symbiotic niche construction
  • Biocrust reanimation, just add water