The Kostka Laboratory combines cutting-edge microbiology/molecular biology with biogeochemistry to explore the ecosystem services provided by microorganisms that keep planet Earth habitable for human beings. These ecosystem services include the recycling of organic matter and nutrients, the production of gases that make up Earth’s atmosphere, and the microbially mediated clean up of harmful pollutants that result from human activities. The lab is interested in how physical or geochemical parameters such as temperature or pH impact the functional diversity of microbial communities, thereby limiting microbial processes which are key to ecosystem functioning. Using a combination of cultivation-based and cultivation-independent molecular techniques, we investigate the physiological ecology of microorganisms, often based on hypotheses generated from genome and metagenomic sequence information. Our research is heavily field oriented and spans from coastal marine ecosystems to the terrestrial subsurface. Current projects include the role of microbes in: the degradation of oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, greenhouse gas emission from wetlands, nitrogen fixation in agricultural soils, and plant microbiomes.