Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

Center for Microbial Exploration

Strengthening ongoing and future microbiome research, education, and outreach efforts at CU Boulder

Bacteria Strain

The mission of the Center for Microbial Exploration is to strengthen ongoing and future microbiome research, education, and outreach efforts at CU Boulder. There are currently 21 core faculty members associated with the center representing 13 different departments and institutes at CU Boulder.

Microbes are ubiquitous and abundant in a wide range of ecosystems, including terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, the atmosphere, the built environment, animal and plant-associated environments, and engineered systems. These ‘microbiomes’ can positively or negatively impact the health of plants, humans, and other animals. Microbes also mediate a wide range of biogeochemical processes in their respective environments, including carbon and nitrogen cycling, atmospheric trace gas fluxes, mineral weathering, pollutant degradation, water treatment, and metal transformations. Because of their importance, it is critical to expand our basic and applied understanding of microbiomes. Unfortunately, microbial diversity often remains unexplored and we still lack even basic information on the millions of microbial species that exist on Earth. However, recent methodological developments have made it feasible to begin exploring the mysterious microbial realm and answer fundamental questions such as: What types of microbes live in a given environment? What are those microbes doing in their environment? How can we use microbes to promote host health or specific ecosystem functions? These questions are at the core of the Center for Microbial Exploration.