Microbial Ecology/Environmental Microbiology
The Ward lab at Princeton University does research on microbial ecology, biological oceanography, and biogeochemistry. We're interested in most aspects of the nitrogen cycle in the ocean and other aquatic environments. Our current focus is on linking functional diversity in microbial pathways to ecosystem function, as in the following examples:
What is the relationship between the immense diversity in functional genes in the nitrogen cycle (such as nirS (nitrite reductase) and amoA (ammonia monooxygenase)) and the rate of denitrification or nitrification in Chesapeake Bay?
Which kinds of eukaryotic phytoplankton are responsible for nitrate assimilation under variable conditions in the surface ocean?
What is the composition of the denitrifying consortium in the permanently ice covered lakes in the Taylor Valley of Antarctica and why are some of the lakes denitrification-challenged?
Are trace metal availabilities and speciation important in controlling the rates of denitrification and the composition of microbial communities?
To what extent is diversity in functional genes linked to variation in isotope signatures of dissolved inorganic nitrogen compounds in seawater?
How widespread are the capabilities for chlorinated aromatic decomposition in marine microbial communities and what is the recent evolutionary history of these novel genes?
See below for more information on ongoing projects. Click on the publications link for a few examples of relevant papers, and see the individual personnel pages for complete publication lists.