Clara Ruiz-González, post-doctoral researcher at th Institut de Ciències del Mar (ICM-CSIC), Barcelona, Spain
I am interested in understanding the links between bacterial diversity and function in aquatic ecosystems, as well as their implications for biogeochemical processes. During my scientific career I have tried to address questions related with this issue through different methods and approaches, such as single-cell techniques or Illumina sequencing, and working in ecosystems as different as rivers, wetlands, lakes, soils, estuaries and the ocean.
I did my PhD at the Institut de Ciències del Mar (ICM-CSIC) in Barcelona (Spain, 2006-2011) under the supervision of Dr. J.M. Gasol and R. Simó, during which I applied tools and knowledge from the fields of microbial ecology, photobiology, and biogeochemistry to understand the role of solar radiation as a regulator of the uptake of organic carbon by marine bacterioplankton communities. The use of culture-independent techniques for studying the cell specific uptake of radiotracers by different microbial groups (e.g. MAR-CAR-FISH, flow cytometry cell sorting) allowed me to explore these interactions within complex microbial communities in marine waters. During my postdoctoral experience, I moved my focus to freshwater bacterial communities, first at the University of Girona (Spain, 2011-2012) exploring the effects of dams on riverine bacteria, and during ca. three years across complex boreal aquatic networks from Quebec, as part of a project lead by Dr. Paul del Giorgio at the Université du Québec à Montréal (Canada, 2013-2015). There, the interpretation of high throughput sequencing data from a metacommunity perspective allowed me to better understand the mechanisms shaping the bacterial assemblages inhabiting heterogeneous landscapes where local microbial communities are linked by the movement of water in the landscape.
Currently, I am back again at the Institut de Ciències del Mar (Barcelona, Spain) as a post-doctoral researcher, working on the large-scale biogeography of marine bacteria. I am trying to gain insight into some of the factors controlling the presence and distribution of taxa and functional genes of ecological relevance in marine microbial communities, with the ultimate aim to improve our capability to interpret the global patterns in gene composition derived from the ongoing avalanche of genomic data. In summary, my scientific experience has been consolidating between research fields that not always communicate, such as limnology, oceanography and teoretical ecology. This trajectory has provided me with a useful balance between these disciplines that I try to maintain in my current research.