CHALLENGING OUR UNDERSTANDING OF GLOBAL CARBON FIXATION
In most ecosystems, phototrophic carbon fixation by plants, algae and cyanobacteria is the primary production strategy supporting higher trophic life. Yet no genetic evidence for photosynthesis exists in desert soils in the Windmill Islands, Antarctica. One of our objectives is to establish what primary production process dominates these nutrient-starved soils.
MICROBIAL ECOLOGY, new bioactives AND characterisation OF THE SMALLEST FORMS OF LIFE
The uniquely harsh environments of Antarctica and surrounding islands are home to unique microbial ecologies. The unique microbial ecologies of Antarctica and subantarctic islands are of interest to the Ferrari lab not only because they are home to new microbes and unique microbial interactions, but also because novel microbial ecologies are a source of new bioactive substances, including antibiotics.
Novel Culturing methods
The majority of bacteria cannot be grown using traditional cultivation techniques. The Ferrari Lab uses innovative techniques, such as the Soil Substrate Membrane System to grow and study previously unculturable bacteria. The Ferrari Lab specialises in fluorescence microscopy as a means to characterise novel bacteria.
Bioremediation and Ecotoxicology
Cleaning up contaminated sites is of interest both to environmental and business stakeholders. The Ferrari Lab studies cold-weather bioremediation using pyschophillic microorganisms to break down human-made toxic waste, with a focus residual toxicity of fuels in Antarctic and subantarctic soil.