- CASES: Canadian Arctic Shelf Exchange Study
- MERGE: Microbiological and Ecological Responses to Global Environment
The Naica Mine is located in Northern Mexico near the city of Chihuahua. It is primarily a lead, zinc, and silver mine that has been operated since 1952 by the mining company Peñoles. The mine is well known for it's extraordinary crystal caves, located about 300m below the surface and containing numerous large selenite crystals. The mine is also a harsh environment, characterized by extremely high temperatures (>40oC) and humidity (near 100%). Due to these extreme conditions, novel, chemoautotrophic microbes and their viruses, perhaps akin to those found on the early Earth or other planets, are hypothesized to dominate the ecoystem.
Thanks to the help and cooperation of the Peñoles group and National Geographic, members of our lab had the opportunity to travel to Mexico in Dec 2009 and collect freshwater samples from several locations within the mine. By working with these samples we hope to gain insight into what types of microbial assemblages inhabit this very unique environment.
For more information about the Naica Mine, please visit:
The Pavilion Lake Research Project is a multi-disciplinary underwater science and exploration endeavor to explore the origins and current microbial and macro-ecology of the freshwater microbialites found in Pavilion Lake, British Columbia. This system serves as as getaway to glimpse early Earth ecosystems and as well as an analog site for the development of protocols and technologies for exploration of the Moon and Mars. In our lab, research at Pavilion Lake focuses on characterizing the viral assemblages associated with the dominant microbialite morphotypes found in the lake using current and new molecular tools as well as investigating the influence of viral lysis on the interactions between microbialite microbes and mineral compounds.
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Saanich Inlet, a placid, scenic body of water along the eastern shore of Vancouver Island, is one of main research stations of the Suttle Lab. The deep waters of Saanich Inlet are seasonally anoxic, producing a natural gradient of genetic and metabolic microbial diversity with depth from oxygen-rich surface waters to oxygen-poor water 200m below the surface. Layered on top of this depth gradient is the yearly seasonal cycle of spring to summer phytoplankton blooms and fall deep water re-oxygenation. In collaboration with the Hallam Lab, we utilize the Saanich Inlet as a natural laboratory to study variations in viral abundance, viral lysis, and viral diversity with seasonal, geochemical, and host community factors.
Current projects in the Saanich Inlet focus on:
• Metagenomic characterization of ssDNA viruses
• Seasonal and depth profiling of podo-, myo-, and phycoviruses through deep sequencing of PCR amplicons and fosmid library sequencing
• Seasonal and depth variations in microvirus diversity
• Investigations of marine RNA viruses
• Quanification of viral and cyanobacterial abundance over time and space
• Isolation of novel cyanophages, bacteriophages, and large genome eukaryotic viruses
• Training in common oceanographic techniques
• Development of new environmental nucleic acid extraction techniques
- Strait of Georgia
The Strait of Georgia is located between Vancouver Island the West Coast of BC. For several years, members of our lab have participated in a week long scientific research cruise for the purpose of collecting data and samples that support numerous research projects in the lab.