Alejandro A. Murillo
European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Germany
Alejandro Murillo is a Postdoctoral Research – FFEM Project – TARA Oceans Consortium at the European Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany. He holds a PhD in Biological Sciences (Molecular Genetics and Microbiology) granted by the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.
His interest in microbial oceanography awakes during the development of his doctoral thesis, when he participated as a student in the course ‘Ecology and Diversity of Marine Microorganisms’ (ECODIM V, 2008), offered as part of the activities of the ‘Austral Summer Institute’ (ASI VIII), hosted by the University of Concepción – Chile. That same year, he attended the summer course on ‘Microbial Oceanography’, organized by the ‘Center of Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education’ (C-MORE, 2008), hosted by the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, USA. Deepening his interest in this area, specifically into the genomic analysis of environmental microbial communities (Metagenomics) in the ocean and their impact on the biogeochemical cycles.
After finishing his doctoral studies he joined Dr. Osvaldo Ulloa’s lab as a postdoctoral researcher, in the frame of the international project ‘Microbial Initiative in Low Oxygen areas off Concepción and Oregon’ (MI-LOCO), funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and his research interests since then have been centered in the analysis of microbial communities in a specific area of the ocean, the so called the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ), through culture-independent methods, using metagenomic and metatranscriptomic analysis, incubation experiments, natural and artificial enrichment of cultures, cell sorting and Single Amplified Genome (SAG) techniques, to understand the complex network of interactions and biogeochemical processes that take place in this niche of the ocean. In this context, he applied to the interdisciplinary postdoctoral training offered by the French Facility for Global Environment (FFEM), project granted to the TARA Oceans Consortium, as an opportunity to improve his skills in the handling, storage and analysis of big-data from physical oceanography, biogeochemical parameters and microbial community diversity, at the Structural and Computational Biology Unit, in the group of Dr. Peer Bork (EMBL – Heidelberg).
Following the above idea, his participation in the FFEM project consists on the exchange of expertise between post doctorates from the northern and southern hemispheres (Brazil, Argentina and Chile), with the goal of developing an international cooperation in sciences related to ocean ecosystems, through the deepening of the understanding of microbial interactions like symbiosis (mutualism, commensalism, parasitism and mimicry) and competition, metabolic coupling and correlation of these processes with the environmental parameters of the water column, in the different areas of the ocean covered by the TARA Expedition. These new analyses follow the keystone papers presented in Science special issue in 2015 but moving forward to evaluate the complex network of interactions between the components of the marine plankton. Hoping to set the baseline for future field experiments that can answer the multiple hypotheses generated by these data.