So far, life has been found wherever there's water. The Vick-Majors Aquatic Microbial Ecology and Biogeochemistry lab is interested in understanding how microbial life interacts with the environment wherever there's water, no matter its form or quantity. This pursuit has led to our work on Antarctic subglacial and surface lakes and our collaborative work studying lakes and glaciers of the Tibetan Plateau, and continues to lead us to explore the plentiful water found in our home in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It also informs our interests in deep ice-drilling, and in astrobiology and planetary protection. Click here to read about SALSA, the Antarctic subglacial lakes project we currently collaborate on.
The diversity of microbial metabolisms means that understanding microbial interactions with the environment requires approaches that integrate environmental information (physical data, chemical data) with information on microbial diversity and activity. The Vick-Majors lab seeks to understand how physical and chemical changes to the environment impact microbial energetics and microbially-mediated processes in freshwater and cryosphere-related systems.
These goals inform the current research in the Vick-Majors Lab: 1. Quantification of the impacts of ice-cover (duration, extent, thickness, formation characteristics) on biogeochemical processes in lakes. 2. Determination of the energetic consequences of ice-cover formation, changes in ice-cover, and life under ice for microbially-mediated elemental cycles. 3. Understanding linkages between hydrology, microbial communities, and elemental cycling under-ice.
NSF helicopter in Antarctica, with Mount Erebus steaming in the background. Photo: Trista Vick-Majors