Sallie W. Chisholm
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Election Year: 2003
Primary Section: 63, Environmental Sciences and Ecology
Membership Type: Member
I am a biological oceanographer interested in the structure and dynamics of marine microbial communities and their role in regulating planetary functions. Over the past decade I have focused my work on one particular microorganism, Prochlorococcus, which is a cyanobacterium that numerically dominates oceanic phytoplankton. It is the smallest known photosynthetic cell, has only 2000 genes, and is responsible for a significant fraction of global photosynthesis. My research is aimed at understanding the factors that regulate the distribution and abundance of Prochlorococcus in the sea, and we approach this by studying it at all levels of biological organization from the genome to the ecosystem. As our ability to predict the dynamics of this model organism grows, so will our ability to understand the complex microbial interactions that shape oceanic ecosystems.