EOAS Member Directory
Deep-sea microbiology; extremophiles; molecular ecology; adaptations to extreme environments
School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
Dept of Marine and Coastal Sciences
Dr. Vetriani along with his laboratory group studies the physiology, ecology and evolution of prokaryotes that inhabit geothermal environments. The overarching objective of their research revolves on the question: “how did microbial metabolism co-evolved with the Earth?” Extant thermophilic, anaerobic, chemolithoautotrophic Bacteria and Archaea that conserve energy and fix carbon using inorganic compounds associated with volcanic activity (e.g., H2, H2S, S0 and CO2) are completely disconnected from photosynthetic processes. While these deep-branching anaerobic thermophiles are modern organisms that co-evolved with our planet, they inhabit deep-sea hydrothermal vents and other geothermal habitats that can be considered relic environments similar to the early Earth. Hence, these microorganisms carry both ancestral and more recently acquired traits (genes and enzymes) and can be used as models to reconstruct early metabolism. To this end, in their laboratory they devote a considerable effort to “domesticate” some of the most fascinating organisms on our planet, and to use them as models to understand their physiology, ecology and their evolution and adaptations to environments that resemble the early Earth.