Assistant Professor of Biology
Microbes: Dynamic Diversity
An Unseen Universe
Although microbes (including fungi, protists, bacteria, and archaea) are by definition minute, they play critical roles within the natural world, such as serving as agents of decay, mediating global biogeochemical dynamics, regulating ecosystems, and by acting as symbionts or pathogens of animals and plants. Knowledge of microbial diversity and community structure, the function of microbes, and how they respond to environmental variables is thus crucial for managing natural systems, gaining insight into how ecosystems function, as well as building a theoretical framework for predictive modeling.
In confronting challenges such as global environmental change and demands an increasing world population will place on ecosystems for agriculture and habitation, understanding of microbial ecology will be essential. Professor Bates research seeks to harness the power of modern molecular and bioinformatics methods combined with classical approaches to broadly investigate microbial diversity, how phylogenetic assemblages of organisms share evolutionary history, function in their environment, change across different spatial scales, and interact with one another in terrestrial ecosystems as well as within plant and insect systems.