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MICROBIAL ECOLOGY & BIOGEOCHEMISTRY

Balmonte Lab

Our lab investigates questions at the intersection of microbial ecology, biogeochemistry, and environmental change in marine and other aquatic systems. We employ experimental and field-based approaches, and bioinformatic, molecular, and analytical chemistry tools to understand feedbacks between environmental parameters, microbial structure and their roles in carbon cycling—specifically the initial enzymatic step of organic matter degradation—and the quality and quantity of elemental pools. Our specific aims include the following: 1) quantify rates of microbial enzyme-catalyzed degradation of organic matter along physicochemical gradients (e.g., hydrostatic pressure, temperature, salinity, nutrients, etc.) from surface to deep ocean waters; 2) understand the extent to which biotic interactions, specifically those between viruses and their bacterial hosts, influence microbial metabolism and biogeochemical cycles in aquatic environments; and 3) determine the sensitivity of microbial structure and their carbon degrading activities in response to environmental perturbations.

We are actively recruiting and are dedicated to mentoring diverse undergraduate and graduate (MS or PhD) students! We have projects with fieldwork in the open ocean, in hadal depths, and in cold, polar environments. Plans are also underway to establish projects that investigate microbial and biogeochemical processes in nearby freshwater to coastal systems. Please reach out to JP Balmonte (jpb422@lehigh.edu) if you’re interested in joining!

Herrera Lab

Members

Former Members

Current Members

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John Paul Balmonte
Principal Investigator
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JP is a microbial ecologist and biogeochemist trained at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Devangi Sathe
Graduate Researcher

Devangi is interested in studying the effects of hydrostatic pressure on marine microbial and viral communities. Her main supervisor is Dr. Ronnie Glud (U. of Southern Denmark) and is also co-supervised by Dr. Mathias Middelboe (U. of Copenhagen). She is based in the HADAL Center at the Univeristy of Southern Denmark in Odense, Denmark.

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Alexandrea Sabo
Graduate Researcher

Alexandrea Sabo is a PhD student interested in studying spatiotemporal differences in microbial and biogeochemical processes along the freshwater-to-marine continuum, particularly those relevant to contaminant degradation. 

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Kyra Szabo
Undergraduate Researcher

Kyra is a junior interested in biotic interactions and responses of microbial communities to environmental change.

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Maggie McLaughlin
Undergraduate Researcher

Maggie is a senior interested in microbial and biogeochemical processes in freshwater and coastal ecosystems.

Former Members

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Graduate Researcher

Went to pursue a Ph.D. at UiT The Arctic University of Norway

Fieldwork

Fieldwork

Research cruises

2023 R/V Teisten and work in Ny-Alesund, Svalbard Arctic Research Station / Himadri Research Station

2023 R/V Pelagia, North Atlantic (Iceland to Azores)

2023 R/V Belgica, Iceland fjords and continental Shelf

2022 R/V Sonne, Bering Sea and Aleutian Trench

2022 R/V Endeavor, North Atlantic

2020 R/V Polarstern, MOSAiC International Arctic Drift Expedition, Arctic Ocean, Leg 4

2016 R/V Atlantis, Guaymas Basin (observer on Alvin dive #4861)

2016 R/V Sonne, South Pacific, North Pacific, Bering Sea

2016 R/V Endeavor, North Atlantic

2015 R/V Endeavor, North Atlantic

2014 E/V Nautilus, Gulf of Mexico, Straits of Florida, Great Bahama Bank

2013 R/V Kilo Moana, Station ALOHA, North Pacific

2012 R/V Polarstern, Central Arctic Ocean

Publications

Publications

Stief, P*, Schauberger, C, Becker, KW, Elvert, M, Balmonte, JP, Franco-Cisterna et al. Pressure-induced transformations of ‘marine snow’ during an experimentally simulated descent to the deep ocean. Comms Earth Environ, In press

Plaas, HE*, Yan, J, Christensen, C, Chang S, Cortez, C, Fern, S, Nelson, L, Sabo, A, Armstrong NC, Turpin, B, Zhang, Y, Paerl, HW, Surratt, JD* (2023) Secondary Organic Aerosol Formation from Cyanobacterial- Derived Volatile Organic Compounds. ACS Earth Space Chem, In press (PDF: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsearthspacechem.3c00177)

 

Lloyd, CC*, Brown, S, Balmonte, JP, Hoarfrost, A, Ghobrial, S, Arnosti, C (2023) Link between regional and depth patterns of microbial communities and enzyme activities in the western North Atlantic. Marine Chemistry, 104299 (PDF: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304420323000956)

 

Arnosti, C*, Hoarfrost, A, Balmonte, JP, Lloyd, CC, Brown, Brown, S, Ghobrial, S. Empirical definition of the Mad Buckets Magic Number – a guide for seagoing scientists. Limnology and Oceanography Bulletin, doi.org/10.1002/lob.10577 (PDF: https://aslopubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/lob.10577

 

Balmonte, JP, Bertulfo, C, Papa, RDS, Paredes, IJ, Tayag, Y. Supporting Society Through Science. Philippine Studies Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints 71(1): 157-62 (PDF: https://search.informit.org/doi/abs/10.3316/informit.998628426553886)

Chamberlain, EJ, Balmonte, JP, Torstensson, A, Fong, AA, Snoeijs-Leijonmalm, P, Bowman, JS. (2022) Impacts of sea ice melt procedure on measurements of microbial community structure. Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene 10(1), doi: 10.1525/elementa.2022.00017 (PDF: https://online.ucpress.edu/elementa/article/10/1/00017/194903/Impacts-of-sea-ice-melting-procedures-on)

 

Mock, T, Boulton, W, Balmonte, JP, Barry, K, Bertilsson, S, Bowman, J, Buck, M, Bratbak, G, Chamberlain, EJ, Cunliffe, M, Creamean, J, Ebenhöh, Eggers, SL, Fong, A, Gardner, J, Gradinger, R, Granskog, M, Havermans, C, Hill, T, Hoppe, CJM, Korte, K, Larsen, A, Müller, O, Nicolaus, A, Oldenburg, E, Popa, O, Rogge, S, Schäfer, H, Shoemaker, K, Snoeijs-Leijonmalm, P, Torstensson, A, Valentin, K, Vader, A, Barry, K, Chen, I-M A, Clum, A, Copeland, A, Daum, C, Eloe-Fadrosh, E, Foster, B, Foster, B, Grigoriev, IV, Huntemann, M, Ivanova, N, Kuo, A, Kyrpides, NC, Mukherjee, S, Palaniappan, K, Pennachio, C, Reddy, TBK, Salamov, A, Roux, S, Varghese, N, Woyke, T, Wu, D, Leggett, RM, Moulton, V, Metfies, K (2022) Multi-omics in the central Arctic Ocean for benchmarking biodiversity change. PLoS Biology, 20(10): e3001835 (PDF: https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3001835)

Lloyd, CC, Brown, S, Balmonte, JP, Hoarfrost, A, Ghobrial, S, and Arnosti, C. (2022) Particles act as ‘specialty centers’ with expanded enzymatic function throughout the water column in the western North Atlantic. Frontiers in Microbiology, doi:10.3389/fmicb.2022.882333 (PDF: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2022.882333/full)

 

Brown, SA., Balmonte, JP, Hoarfrost, A, Ghobrial, S, and Arnosti, C. (2022) Depth-related patterns in microbial community responses to complex organic matter in the western North Atlantic Ocean, Biogeosciences 19:5617-5631, doi: 10.5194/bg-19-5617-2022 (PDF: https://bg.copernicus.org/articles/19/5617/2022/)

Traving, SJ, Balmonte, JP, Seale, D, Arnosti, C, Glud, RN, Hallam, SJ, Middelboe, M. (2022) On single cell enzyme assays in marine microbial ecology and biogeochemistry. Frontiers in Marine Sciences, doi: 10.3389/fmars.2022.846656 (PDF: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2022.846656/full)

Giebel, HA, Arnosti, C, Badewien, TH, Bakenhus, I, Balmonte, JP, et al (2021). Microbial growth and organic matter cycling in the Pacific Ocean along a latitudinal transect between subarctic and subantarctic waters. Frontiers in Marine Sciences, doi: 10.3389/fmars.2021.764383 (PDF: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2021.764383/full)

Jain, A, Balmonte, JP, Singh, R, Bhaskar, P, Krishnan, KP (2021). Spatially-resolved assembly, connectivity and structure of particle-attached and free-living bacterial communities in a high Arctic fjord. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 97(11):1-11 (PDF: https://academic.oup.com/femsec/article/97/11/fiab139/6385754)

Balmonte, JP, Simon, M, Giebel HA, Arnosti, C. (2021) A Sea Change in Microbial Enzymes: Heterogeneous latitudinal and depth gradients in bulk water and particle-associated enzymatic activities from 30°S to 59°N in the Pacific Ocean. Limnology and Oceanography, 66:3489-3507 (PDF: https://aslopubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/lno.11894)

Speare, LA, Davies, S, Balmonte, JP, Baumann, JH, Castillo, K (2020). Patterns of environmental variability influence coral-associated bacterial and algal communities on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. Molecular Ecology. 29:2334-2348 (PDF: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/mec.15497)

Balmonte, JP*, Hasler-Sheetal, H, Glud, RN, Andersen, TJ, Sejr, M, Middelboe, M, Teske, A, Arnosti, C. (2020) Sharp contrasts between freshwater and marine microbial enzymatic capabilities, community composition, and DOM pools in a NE Greenland fjord. Limnology and Oceanography 65:77-95 (PDF: https://aslopubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/lno.11253)

Hoarfrost, A, Balmonte, JP, Ghobrial, S, Ziervogel, K, Bane, J, Gawarkiewicz, G, Arnosti, C. (2019) Gulf Stream ring water intrusion on the Mid-Atlantic Bight continental shelf break affects microbially-driven carbon cycling. Frontiers in Marine Science doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00394 (PDF: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2019.00394/full)

Balmonte, JP, Buckley, A, Hoarfrost, A, Ghobrial, S, Teske, A, Arnosti, C. (2019) Community structural differences shape microbial responses to high molecular weight organic matter. Environmental Microbiology 21(2): 557-571 (PDF: https://sfamjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1462-2920.14485)

Balmonte, JP, Teske, A, Arnosti, C. (2018) Structure and function of high Arctic pelagic, particle-associated, and benthic bacterial communities. Environmental Microbiology 20(8): 2941-2954 (PDF: https://sfamjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1462-2920.14304)

Balmonte, JP, Arnosti, C, Underwood, S, McKee, BA, Teske, A. (2016) Riverine bacterial communities reveal environmental disturbance signatures within the Betaproteobacteria and Verrucomicrobia. Frontiers in Microbiology 7:1441. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.01441 (PDF: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2016.01441/full)

Neumann, AM, Balmonte, JP, Berger, M, Ansgar-Giebel H, Voget, S et al (2015). Different Utilization of alginate and other algal polysaccharides by marine Alteromonas macleodii ecotypes. Environmental Microbiology 17(10):3857-3868 (PDF: https://sfamjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1462-2920.12862)

Boetius, A, Albrecht, S, Bakker, K, Bienhold, C, Felden, J et al (2013). Export of algal biomass from the melting Arctic sea ice. Science 339(6126): 1430-1432 (PDF: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.1231346)

Funding
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