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University of Oregon

Stilianos Louca

Research Interests
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Microorganisms are the most ancient and the most ubiquitous form of life on Earth, shaping biogeochemical fluxes in virtually every ecosystem. My lab studies how microorganisms interact with their environment through their metabolism and, reciprocally, how this interaction affects microbial diversity at short (ecological) and long (macroevolutionary) time scales. Notably, we develop and test gene-centric ecological theories, which predict microbial metabolic processes at ecosystem scales by focusing on specific genes or pathways regardless of their “host” species. We also study how the combination of genes into genomes influences their dynamics at ecosystem scales, when compared to purely gene-centric predictions. Further, we investigate the implications of gene- and genome-level processes for microbial macroevolution. A central question is how the acquisition of new metabolic capabilities my microbial lineages couples to their overall diversification over geological time scales, giving rise to the incredible microbial diversity on Earth today. Our work sheds light into the various layers at which Life is organized since its very beginning, including individual genes, groups of genes (genomes) and groups of genomes (communities).
Selected publications
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Louca, S.
, Shih, P. M., Pennell, M. W., Fischer, W. W., Parfrey, L. W., Doebeli, M. (2018). Bacterial diversification through geological time. Nature Ecology & Evolution 2:1458-1467.

Louca, S., Polz, M. F., Mazel, F., Albright, M. B. N., Huber, J. A., O’Connor, M. I., Ackermann, M., Hahn, A. S., Srivastava, D. S., Crowe, S. A., Doebeli, M., Parfrey, L. W. (2018). Function and functional redundancy in microbial systems. Nature Ecology & Evolution 2:936-943

Louca, S., Parfrey, L. W., Doebeli, M. (2016). Decoupling function and taxonomy in the global ocean microbiome. Science 353:1272-1277

Louca, S., Jacques, S. M. S., Pires, A. P. F., Leal, J. S., Srivastava, D. S., Parfrey, L. W., Farjalla, V. F., Doebeli, M. (2016). High taxonomic variability despite stable functional structure across microbial communities. Nature Ecology & Evolution 1:0015

Louca, S., Hawley, A. K., Katsev, S., Torres-Beltran, M., Bhatia, M. P., Kheirandish, S., Michiels, C. C., Capelle, D., Lavik, G., Doebeli, M., Crowe, S. A., Hallam, S. J (2016). Integrating biogeochemistry with multiomic sequence information in a model oxygen minimum zone. PNAS 113:E5925-E5933