Emilie Lefevre, Postdoctoral Associate  

Office Location: Biological Sciences Building
Office Phone: (919) 660-7287
Email Address: emilie.lefevre@duke.edu

Ecology and Population Biology

Research Categories: Microbial Ecology

Current projects: My current research project focuses on endophytic fungi associated with plants and lichens of the boreal forest. The roles of fungal endophytes and interactions with their hosts, other endophytic microbes and environmental factors remain obscure, as does the extent and spatial scaling of their diversity. In summer 2011, we conducted an intense field trip along a 800 mi. South-North and East-West transects in Quebec, Canada, sampling for three phylogenetically divergent hosts (the moss Pleurozium shreberi, the black spruce Picea mariana, and the lichen Cladonia rangiferina). I am currently using both environmental cloning-sequencing of the partial ITS-LSU region and a newly developed metagenomic approach using Ion Torrent sequencing of targeted ITS1 amplicons in order to understand the extent and spatial scaling of the endophytic fungal diversity in the boreal forest.

Research Description: My areas of expertise span the fields of aquatic microbial ecology, community and ecosystem ecology, fungal ecology, and environmental engineering. Microbial ecology is one of the fastest evolving disciplines of environmental sciences. During the last three decades, advances in the field have opened our eyes on the vast microbial diversity that exists in diverse environments, raising exciting questions about the role and implication of this biodiversity for ecosystem functioning. Identifying the different components of a microbial community is an essential preliminary step in the process of understanding how ecosystems work. However, an equally important step is to link the observed biodiversity with functional data that might explain the mechanisms underlying ecosystem functioning. Thus, studying (1) interactions of the different components of a microbial community with one another and with their surrounding environment, (2) their spatial and temporal dynamics, but also (3) their functional diversity, are our next challenges in the process of understanding ecosystem functioning and supporting ecosystem management decisions.

Areas of Interest:
Aquatic Microbial Ecology
Fungal Ecology
Environmental Engineering