Metabolic ecology of microbial communities: from simple experiments to big data and back

Date: September 21, 2022 - h 11.30 (Italian time)Where: Meeting room 207, entrance from via Paolotti, 2/a

Microbes assemble in diverse communities responsible for crucial functions, such as regulating the response of the biosphere to environmental variation and driving the bulk of elemental cycles. Understanding the factors shaping microbial community assembly is pivotal to predict the functioning of ecosystems in a rapidly changing world and design interventions to mitigate the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. In this talk, I will outline mechanistic links between changes in the diversity and structure of microbial communities and variations in fundamental environmental variables, specifically temperature and available nutrients. My work shows the power of combining theory-informed controlled experiments with data from communities in natural habitats to get a mechanistic understanding of the principles governing microbial community assembly.

conference speaker

Martina Dal Bello

Martina is a microbial community ecologist and currently she is a research scientist in the lab of Jeff Gore at MIT. Martina holds a PhD in marine ecology from the University of Pisa, where she investigated the impacts of pulse perturbations and the occurrence of regime shifts in microbial and algal communities of rocky shore habitats by performing field experiments. She joined the Gore lab as a postdoc in 2017 to study the drivers of microbial community diversity using controlled laboratory experiments amenable to mathematical modeling. Her research aims at getting a mechanistic understanding of the relationship between environmental variables and microbial community assembly.