Isabel Ferrera


Microorganisms are adapted to all ecosystems that exist on Earth, from the human gut to deep-sea hydrothermal vents, where they are responsible for nutrient cycling and energy flow. Prokaryotes are able to grow across an incredibly broad range of temperature, pH, salinity and oxygen and are capable of decomposing many chemicals, which are toxic or dangerous to other biota. For that reason, microorganisms are used in several industrial processes and are an important resource for biotechnological and medical applications. Microorganisms have thus an enormous role and impact in our daily lives, from maintaining the biosphere where we live to improving our lifestyles. Studying microbial diversity is therefore crucial to understand the functioning of our planet but also to develop new industrial and medical applications.

As microbial ecologist, I study diversity and function of microorganisms and the processes they carry out both in engineered and natural ecosystems. I have approached their study in microbial-driven ecosystems at different scales, from genes through individual species to whole communities combining molecular approaches like the current –omics with more classical methodologies like isolation, growth and characterization of bacterial strains. My career is divided in the three main topics:

Aquatic Environments
Extreme environments
Engineered environments