NorthenLab: Exometabolomics linking genomes with environments to understand how webs of microbes sustain biomes

The Northen Metabolomics Lab utilizes mass spectrometry technologies to measure metabolite changes in ecosystems. Primarily we are interested in understanding community structure and function within soil environments and linking both predictions and measurements to genomics data.

In ecosystems, metabolites are the currency that mediate metabolic interactions between different species. By measuring the exchange of metabolites, we are better able to understand interactions within microbial consortia, between plants and microbes, and within biological soil crusts containing cyanobacteria. Central to these efforts are the development of mass spectrometry approaches to study these processes including exoenzyme activity profiling, LCMS based exometabolomics, and mass spectrometry imaging. Together these allow us to comprehensively characterize metabolic activities, dynamics, and localization within complex systems to predict responses and design interventions.

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