Research Question

Marine microbes critically influence global primary productivity, biogeochemical cycling, and oceanic food webs. Today, we also recognize that the overwhelming majority of eukaryotic organisms are symbiotically associated with microbes.

Research in the Beinart Lab unites these two important ideas with the novel question: what are the roles of symbiotic microbes in marine ecosystems? Our research aims to describe the mechanistic links among symbiont physiology, ecological processes, and biogeochemical cycles, with the ultimate goal of advancing knowledge of the function and significance of microbes in marine ecosystems.


We employ a unique integrative approach to the physiology and ecology of symbiotic microbes and their hosts, bringing together insights from physiological experiments, molecular-based ‘omics tools, physico-chemical measurements, and community surveys.


Right now, we are working on this in two types of symbioses:

  1. Symbioses between anaerobic ciliates and methanogenic archaea from anoxic and oxygen-depleted coastal habitats.

  2. Symbioses between animals and chemosynthetic bacteria from deep-sea hydrothermal vents and cold seeps, as well as coastal habitats.