MTM2: DRIVERS OF FUNCTIONAL REDUNDANCY ACROSS MICROBIOMES
Microbes are essential components of all ecosystems. Human activity has impacted microbes across a wide range of natural ecosystems, including oceans, soils, and human guts. In most cases, humans simplify these environments, resulting in a decrease in the number of different microbial species present and a corresponding decrease in the number of different functions that these microbes can perform. Both losses have been linked to decreases in ecosystem health. What is not well understand is whether human-mediated ecosystem simplification causes losses in microbial ‘functional redundancy’ – the number of different microbial species that can perform any given function. Functional redundancy is important, because it provides ecosystem insurance – in a redundant system, when one microbial species goes extinct, there is another waiting to take its place. If human activity is driving large losses in functional redundancy, then microbial ecosystems will become more and more fragile, and more and more prone to collapse. This project will characterize the functional redundancy of microbes in a variety of ecosystems that range in habitat complexity by using experimental research, theoretical modelling, and novel computational methods. The end goals of this project are to identify rules that govern the relationship between complexity, functional redundancy and health of microbial ecosystems as well as train graduate students and postdoctoral scientists in interdisciplinary research. This project will also help educate undergraduates and the public about the importance of science through social media outlets, videos, and the development of interdisciplinary curricula for first year college students.
DEEP LEARNING TO COMBINE DATASETS
FUNCTIONAL REDUNDANCY THEORY
Clemson University is a public, land-grant research university in Clemson, South Carolina.
The Department of Biological Sciences studies all aspects of life - from the structure and function of molecules and cells to the behavior and interaction of organisms, communities, and ecosystems. They then apply this knowledge to areas such as medicine, conservation, and agriculture.
The School of Computing prides itself on groundbreaking research on developing new technologies and understanding how technology can better shape the world. World-class faculty, graduate and undergraduate researchers collaborate with each other and across disciplines in the pursuit of discovery.
The Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences is home to a number of disciplines related to the environment, food systems, sustainability, plant breeding, plant pathology, entomology, mycology, and soil and water sciences, among others. As such, they are a multidisciplinary department offering a number of undergraduate and graduate degrees.