Microbial Ecology, Evolution, and Bioinformatics

Research overview

The Aylward lab is broadly interested in the ecology and evolution of microbial life on Earth. Hallmark discoveries made over the last ~40 years have underscored the importance of microbial life to the planet, and it is now widely accepted that global biogeochemical cycles are driven by diverse groups of Bacteria and Archaea, most of which lack any cultivated representatives. Novel deep-branching microbial lineages continue to be discovered using cultivation-independent 'omic methods, and currently a major challenge is understanding the ecology and evolution of these groups and their broader impact on the biosphere. The Aylward lab uses computational 'omic approaches to investigate the phylogenetic, genomic, and metabolic diversity of microbial groups and the factors that shape their distributions and genomic repertoires.