Dr. Linda Amaral-Zettler is a microbial ecologist and a biological oceanographer by training. Research in the Amaral-Zettler laboratory investigates the relationships between microbes and the environment, focusing on mechanisms that determine microbial diversity, distribution, survival, and impact on local and global processes.
Working in diverse environments ranging from pH extreme freshwaters to oligotrophic open-ocean systems the unifying goal of her research is to explain patterns of microbial diversity and distribution over space and time, to understand how microbial communities are formed, and to reveal the role they play in ecosystem functioning. She led the NSF-funded MIRADA-LTERS project that carried out all-taxon microbial biodiversity inventories and is exploring large-scale patterns in microbial biogeography across the 13 aquatic US Long Term Ecological Research Sites.
As part of the Woods Hole Center for Oceans and Human Health, her laboratory employs next generation sequencing techniques to understand the presence and persistence of pathogens and harmful algal blooming species in the natural and man-made environment, and pathogen pollution along trade routes via the aquarium fish pet trade.
With collaborators she is probing the diversity, function and fate of microbes inhabiting plastic marine debris in the open ocean, a community known as the “Plastisphere”. Her research spans the fields of microbial ecology, molecular ecology, molecular evolution, cell-physiology, phylogenetics, comparative molecular biology and biogeography.