The Environmental Niche Atlas: Global Mapping of Microbial Functions.
The goal of this project is to quantify patterns of functional diversity in marine microbial communities by developing new automated tools to catalog and estimate the global distributions of all microbial protein families and their associated functions from high-throughput sequence data. We have the following scientific objectives:
- Build a database of gene families from sequenced genomes (organismal and viral) that is both more comprehensive than currently available resources and readily updated in response to the exponential increase in genomic data,
- Develop a bioinformatics pipeline for identifying all representatives of these gene families in a metagenomics or metatranscriptomics data set,
- Create ecological metrics and statistical models for describing gene family diversity and distributions across the World Ocean and different environmental conditions,
- Analyze metagenomic and metatranscriptomic data from public databases and collaborators to identify diversity hotspots, pinpoint microbial biomarkers for sensitive environments, and uncover new associations between community gene functions and ecosystem properties.