Studying microbial diversity in extreme environments has a special interest because these organisms can provide insights into the origins and evolution of life and can result in the discovery of new genes and organisms that can be used for biotechnological applications. Perhaps the best-known example is the thermophilic enzyme Taq polymerase, originally extracted from a bacterium isolated from a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park, Thermus aquaticus. This enzyme revolutionized molecular biology. During my postdoctoral years in the laboratory of Dr. Anna-Louise Reysenbach at Portland State University (USA), I worked on the physiology, diversity and phylogenetics of the Aquificales, an order of thermophilic Bacteria that are widespread in terrestrial hot springs and deep-sea hydrothermal vents. This deeply branching group in the tree of life is of particular interest because they are likely related with the early evolution of life on Earth. Despite extremophiles is not the main focus of my research nowadays, I recently determined the effects of the submarine volcanic eruption that occurred in El Hierro (Canary Islands) on planktonic microbial communities.
Ferrera I, Arístegui J, González JM, Montero MF, Fraile-Nuez E, Gasol JM. 2015. TRANSIENT CHANGES IN BACTERIOPLANKTON COMMUNITIES INDUCED BY THE SUBMARINE VOLCANIC ERUPTION OF EL HIERRO (CANARY ISLANDS). PLoS One 10: e0118136. Read article
Ferrera I, Banta AM, Reysenbach AL. 2014. SPATIAL PATTERNS OF AQUIFICALES IN DEEP-SEA VENTS ALONG THE EASTERN LAU SPREADING CENTER (SW PACIFIC). Systematic and Applied Microbiology 6: 442-448. Read article
Ferrera I, Longhorn S, Banta AB, Liu Y, Preston D, Reysenbach AL. 2007. DIVERSITY OF 16S rRNA GENE, ITS REGION AND aclB GENE OF THE AQUIFICALES. Extremophiles 11:57-64. Read article