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Carbon Cycling Up Close

New research from Seppe Kuehn's group at UChicago


Recent work from Seppe Kuehn's group at UChicago introduces their experimental approach to microbes. The group focuses on exploiting closed microbial ecosystems to study ecosystem dynamics in a laboratory setting at high resolution and precision. Self-sustaining closed microbial communities are milliliter scale consortia of microbes that persist indefinitely when provided with only light.  These remarkable communities persist by robustly cycling nutrients and provide model systems for understanding how ecosystem function (nutrient cycling) emerges from structure and energy flow (light). 

Now,  a new high-precision method to quantify carbon cycling shows that materially closed microbial ecosystems (CES) provided with only light self-organize to robustly cycle carbon, helping establish CES as model biospheres for studying how ecosystems persistently cycle nutrients.

Astacioa, L. M. de J., Prabhakara, K. H., Li, Z., Mickalide, H., & Kuehn, S. (2021). Closed microbial communities self-organize to persistently cycle carbon. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(45).