The Emerson lab studies viral communities and their influences on host ecology and biogeochemistry in a variety of environments, including soil and plant-associated ecosystems. Viruses are abundant members of microbial communities with significant impacts on local and global microbial ecology and biogeochemistry, in addition to host health and disease. Using metagenomic, bioinformatic, and other approaches, we reconstruct viral and microbial genomes to compare viral and microbial community composition and function across biogeochemical conditions.
Our analyses of soil, rhizosphere, and phyllosphere viral ecology are helping to reveal the diversity and ecological impacts of previously unknown viruses that infect organisms ranging from bacteria and archaea to fungi, nematodes, and plants. These viruses are likely to contribute to food webs linked to organic matter decomposition, carbon and nutrient cycling, greenhouse gas emissions, and agricultural productivity.