Childhood in Oklahoma, college in Minnesota, grad school in the Bay!
In the Nayak Lab, I use experimental genetics to explore energy metabolism in archaea. I am interested in anaerobic methanotrophic archaea (ANME), which are hypothesized to make a living via reversal of the canonical methanogenesis pathway. However, methanogenesis in the forward direction generates energy, leaving major questions unanswered about how ANME are able to make ATP despite running the pathway in reverse. Unfortunately, ANME have avoided laboratory isolation for over 20 years, preventing detailed genetic investigation into their metabolism. To circumvent the challenge of isolation, my thesis work is focused on harnessing the closely related model methanogen Methanosarcina acetivorans as a chassis for expressing genes from ANME. By expressing novel respiratory complexes and cytochromes from ANME in M. acetivorans, I will be able to gauge the impact these genes have on the directionality of methanogenesis.