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Giant kelp forests play a critical role in coastal marine carbon cycling and are one of the main conduits by which the oceans absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide. Much like the tens of trillions of distinctive microbes that inhabit humans, giant kelp harbor microbes that differ from those in the surrounding water. Our microbiome is essential for proper immune system function and plays a fundamental role in most aspects of our physiology. I am studying whether, similar to us, the microbes living on kelp (the kelp microbiome) aid in kelp survival. In addition, whether the ecological function of these microbial communities will be altered by increasing human influence on the marine system.

I am working with key groups at UC Santa Barbara (the Santa Barbara Channel LTER and the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network), as well as graduate students in the Carlson and Wilbanks lab, to develop methods to study the kelp microbiome.


Contact me at ajames@ucsb.edu if you are interested in working on kelp microbes!

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