April 27, 2015

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Research has been supported by the NSF, DOE, NASA and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Zehr Laboratory

Research in our laboratory group focuses on how microorganisms control the availability of nitrogen, a critical element in all life as we know it. Nitrogen, a major plant nutrient, is transformed from one form to another by microorganisms, and moves between habitats. A large reservoir of nitrogen on Earth resides in the air we breath: 80% of the atmosphere is nitrogen gas. Nitrogen gas, or dinitrogen (2 nitrogen atoms triple bonded together) is unavailable to most organisms, in particular the eukaryotic plants and animals. Many diverse prokaryotic microorganisms have the ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into a biologically available form. Biological nitrogen fixation is catalyzed by an enzyme, called nitrogenase. Since most of the microorganisms in the natural environment have yet to be cultivated, we study the microorganisms in the environment that fix nitrogen by looking for the genes and proteins involved in nitrogen fixation.

Field Photos
View photos from the field.

Research Associates, Postdoctoral Researchers, Graduate Students & Technical Support

Our laboratory focuses on the metabolism and transformations of nitrogen by marine microorganisms.

University of California Santa Cruz
Ocean Sciences Department
Marine Microbiology Laboratory/Zehr Lab
1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064
T: 831-459-3128
F: 831-459-4882