Our research takes an integrative approach to address central questions in microbial evolution and ecology regarding the origins, maintenance and distribution of microbial diversity, with a particular emphasis on the evolution of environmental tolerance in cyanobacteria. How do microorganisms adapt to novel environments? Does adaptation come with evolutionary costs? How do evolutionary processes, environmental variation and geography contribute to the patterns of microbial diversity observed at local, regional and global scales? Current projects investigate: (1) the genetic basis of temperature adaptation in a group of hot spring cyanobacteria (Synechococcus) living at or near the thermal limit for photosynthetic life; (2) the population genomics of niche differentiation in ecological specialist lineages of the cyanobacterium Mastigocladus laminosus; (3) the roles of competition and character displacement for shaping the realized distributions of photosynthetic bacteria along hot spring thermal gradients; and (4) the molecular evolution of a novel cyanobacterial light harvesting system based on chlorophyll d.
S. R. Miller, M. A. McGuirl and D. Carvey. 2013. The evolution of RuBisCO stability at the thermal limit of photoautotrophy. Mol. Biol. Evol., in press.
M. L. Weltzer and S. R. Miller. 2013. Ecological divergence of a novel group of Chloroflexus along a geothermal gradient. Appl. Environ. Microbiol., in press. (Selected as AEM Spotlight)
D. W. Ward, R. W. Castenholz and S. R. Miller. 2012. Cyanobacteria in geothermal habitats. In: Ecology of Cyanobacteria II: Their Diversity in Space and Time.
S. R. Miller, A. M. Wood, R. E. Blankenship, M. Kim and S. Ferriera. 2011. Dynamics of gene duplication in the genomes of chlorophyll d-producing cyanobacteria: Implications for the ecological niche. Genome Biol. Evol. 3:601-613.
E. S. Boyd, A. D. Anbar, S. R Miller, T. L. Hamilton, M. Lavin and J. W. Peters. 2011. A late methanogen origin for molybdenum-dependent nitrogenase. Geobiol. 9:221-232. (Highlighted in Science as Editor’s Choice)
A. Warren et al. 2011. Genotypic and phenotypic variation in P. aeruginosa reveals signatures of secondary infection and mutator activity in certain CF patients with chronic lung infections. Infect. Immun. 79:4802-4818.
S. R. Miller, A. L. Strong, K. L. Jones and M. C. Ungerer. 2009. Barcoded pyrosequencing reveals shared bacterial community properties along two alkaline hot spring temperature gradients in Yellowstone National Park. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 75:4565-4572.
S. R. Miller, C. Williams, A. L. Strong and D. Carvey. 2009. Ecological specialization in a spatially structured population of the thermophilic cyanobacterum Mastigocladus laminosus. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 75:729-734.
S. R. Miller, R. W. Castenholz and D. Pedersen. 2007. Phylogeography of the thermophilic cyanobacterium Mastigocladus laminosus. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 73:4751-4759.
S. R. Miller, M. D. Purugganan and S. E. Curtis. 2006. Molecular population genetics and phenotypic diversification of two populations of the thermophilic cyanobacterium Mastigocladus laminosus. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 72:2793-2800.
R. E. Ley, J. K. Harris, J. Wilcox, J. R. Spear, S. R. Miller, B. M. Bebout, J. A. Maresca, D. A. Bryant, M. L. Sogin and N. R. Pace. 2006. Unexpected diversity and complexity of the Guerrero Negro hypersaline microbial mat. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 72:3685-3695. (Cover Article)
S. R. Miller, S. Augustine, T. Le Olson, R. E. Blankenship, J. Selker, and A. M. Wood. 2005. Discovery of a free-living, chlorophyll-d producing cyanobacterium with a hybrid proteobacterial/cyanobacterial SSU rRNA gene. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 102:850-855. (Must Read rating by Faculty of 1000)