We study the microbial communities forming mats in hot springs. These springs are like hot islands in a colder “ocean” surrounding them. Therefore, they can be used to analyze dispersal of microbial taxa from one to another. We have sampled springs along the cordilleras of Costa Rica and along the Andes in Chile, from El Tatio in the north to San Ignacio del Huinay in the south. We have also collected mat samples in Deception Island, Antarctica. In the future we are planning sampling expeditions in Perú and other countries.
Altogether we have samples at different space scales, from cm to thousands of kilometers, along a latitudinal gradient. This permits analysis of the importance of dispersal limitation for bacteria.
We also analyze metagenomes and metatranscriptomes of the mat communities, assembling genomes of the most important members of the community and determining their role in the ecology of the ecosystem.