In the Pietrasiak Dryland Microbes Lab we 1) discover and quantify dryland microbial diversity (we especially are fascinated by cyanobacteria and algae); 2) investigate the role of microbes in dryland ecosystem functioning and soil health; and 3) identify key microbial ecosystem players as well as their traits important for bioprospecting and resource management. To date the Pietrasiak lab has described 9 cyanobacteria genera and 23 species new to science using a modern approach to algal taxonomy. The lab group has also demonstrated how landscape settings in drylands and associated soil properties shape soil microbial communities in the Americas.
Terrestrial cyanobacteria and algae, biological soil crusts, dryland soil ecology, soil health, microbial biogeography, cyanobacterial systematics and phylogenetics
We apply a variety of diverse approaches including cutting edge DNA based techniques and bioinformatics, advanced microscopy, traditional microbial isolation and culturing methods, as well as soil ecological, field biological, and landscape ecological methods to study dryland microbes. Our research is highly interdisciplinary and addresses questions in resource management, ecology, biogeography, and systematics of microbes in the most arid soils and rock substrates of the Americas.