Assistant Professor of Biology 

B.S. - Humboldt State University
Ph.D. - Massachusetts Institute of Technology (WHOI-MIT Joint Program)

Office Hours

Research Interests: Marine microbial ecology, microbe-microbe interactions, harmful algal blooms, phytoplankton physiology

My primary research interests are studying how marine microorganisms interact with each other and their environment.  As part of this research, I have focused on a critical group of marine microbes: phytoplankton.  Phytoplankton require nutrients such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) for growth, and these nutrients can come in many different forms. For example, ammonia, nitrate, and urea are common sources of N for phytoplankton.  Understanding which nutrients are being utilized by phytoplankton, and at what moment, requires the ability to track the nutritional physiology of phytoplankton in their natural environment. Most traditional metrics of phytoplankton nutritional physiology are not species-specific, making it difficult to link nutrient supply to the physiology of the cells, and to growth dynamics.  However, I have used modern tools from molecular biology to solve this problem, leveraging genome-enabled molecular techniques to identify how nutrient form and supply fuel the growth of a single species in a mixed community. 

In addition to interacting with their environment, marine microorganisms also interact with each other.  It is becoming increasingly recognized that marine microbes are not spatially or functionally isolated in their natural environment, and microbe-microbe interactions play a large role in energy and element cycles that can extend beyond ecosystem boundaries.  A second part of my research investigates the only know case of symbiosis in archaea: the Ignicoccus hospitalis – Nanoarchaeum equitans system.  These two species, which were isolated from marine, hydrothermal vents represent the simplest symbiotic system known. Using a multi-pronged approach of combining transcriptomic and proteomic analysis, we have identified the molecular response of I. hospitalis (the host cell) as it becomes increasingly populated with N. equitans (the symbiont). We have also investigated the physical interaction of this system using high-resolution cellular imaging techniques such as SEM and confocal microscopy.

Louie L. Wurch, Richard Giannone, Thomas Heimerl, Stanton Martin, Zamin K. Yang, Harald Huber, Reinhard Rachel, Robert Hettich, and Mircea Podar (2014) LIFE ON THE EDGE: FUNCTIONAL GENOMIC RESPONSE OF IGNICOCCUS HOSPITALIS TO THE PRESENCE OF NANOARCHAEUM EQUITANS.  ISME J. DOI: 10.1038/ismej.2014.112.

Louie L. Wurch, Christopher J. Gobler, and Sonya T. Dyhrman (2014) EXPRESSION OF A XANTHINE PERMEASE AND PHOSPHATE TRANSPORTER IN CULTURES AND FIELD POPULATIONS OF THE HARMFUL ALGA AUREOCOCCUS ANOPHAGEFFERENS: TRACKING NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCY DURING BROWN TIDES.  Environmental Microbiology.  DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.12374.

Louie L. Wurch, Erin T. Bertrand, Mak A. Saito, Benjamin A.S. van Mooy, and Sonya T. Dyhrman (2011) PROTEOME CHANGES DRIVEN BY PHOSPHORUS DEFICIENCY AND RECOVERY IN THE BROWN TIDE-FORMING ALGA, AUREOCOCCUS ANOPHAGEFFERENS. PLoS ONE 6(12): e28949. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028949.

Louie L. Wurch, Sheean T. Haley, Elizabeth D. Orchard, and Sonya T. Dyhrman (2011) NUTRIENT REGULATED TRANSCRIPTIONAL RESPONSES IN THE BROWN TIDE FORMING ALGA AUREOCOCCUS ANOPHAGEFFERENS. Environ. Microbiol. 13: 468-481.

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