Welcome to the Sullivan Lab* at the University of Arizona
also known as the Tucson Marine Phage Lab (TMPL)
*at Ohio State University Microbiology Department as of June 2015
Viruses Impact Microbial Processes
As the world faces global change and resource limitation, understanding the planet's microbes (e.g. bacteria, archaea) becomes a necessity. This is because microbes drive the biogeochemistry that runs the planet, and are central to human endeavors, from food to health to industry. Viruses that infect microbes profoundly shape microbial populations and processes by acting as both major predators and sources of new genes.
We work to understand viral impacts on globally important microbial processes. As empiricists, we test hypotheses through direct systems-level studies of natural populations, complemented by developing and studying model phage-host systems in the lab with the goal of generating the data required for predictive ecosystem modeling. Practically, we develop new ways to "see" viruses — in the microscope, in environmental sequence datasets, in experiments — i.e., we are learning how to "count" across different data types.
Given this quantitative toolkit, current research questions include:
1) What is a viral population or species?
2) How do viral assemblages change over space and time, and what drives these patterns?
3) How do bottom-up processes impact top-down predators?
Life in Our Phage World
In celebration of a century of phage exploration, this newly published 404 page field guide explores 30 diverse phages. Each phage is characterized by its distinctive traits: genome, lifestyle, close relatives, habitat, and global range. The book includes hand-drawn images of intricate virion structure and of the biological techniques used to explore these phages. Additionally, researchers recount their experiences in pursuit of understanding our phage world.
Purchase the hardcover book at Amazon.