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Gordon T. Taylor


Division Head, Marine Sciences

Director of the NAno-Raman Molecular Imaging Laboratory (NARMIL)



- University of Southern California

Research Topics:

Microbial oceanography, microbial ecology, planktonic food webs, biogeochemistry, ocean deoxygenation, microplastic contaminants, single cell analysis, novel bioimaging technology - Raman Microspectrospectroscopy and Atomic Force Microscopy

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  • Bio/Research


    Accepting graduate student applications. Come join the adventure!

    My group’s research efforts have focused on (i) microbial mediation of biogeochemical processes (particularly carbon cycling), (ii) food web interactions among microorganisms (bacteria, protozoans, algae and viruses), and (iii) and linking ecological function to specific microbial community members. Microbiological and chemical exchange processes through the water column and at oxic/anoxic, solid/water and air/water boundaries have been particular foci of our group.

    Microbiological processes are intimately linked to the fate of carbon in the ocean and are responsive to climatic changes. As founding members of the NSF-funded CARIACO Ocean Time Series Program (1995-2017), our team’s research in the anoxic Cariaco Basin has improved understanding of current carbon cycling dynamics in the southern Caribbean Sea on the continental margin of Venezuela. Beyond being intrinsically fascinating, the Cariaco Basin serves as a model for other oxygen-depleted bodies of water (e.g., the Gulf of Mexico “Dead Zone”, Long Island Sound, Black Sea, the Baltic and Mediterranean Deeps, major Oxygen Minimum Zones, and fjords), which are expanding geographically as climate changes and as human populations impact coastal waters, a process referred to as ocean deoxygenation. Our group has focused on microbial dynamics, biogeochemistry and transformations of organic materials transported from oxic to anoxic waters. We are particularly motivated to understand the process of chemoautotrophy. The reason being that chemoautotrophic carbon fixation is globally important to food webs and can link carbon, nitrogen and sulfur cycles. Our group combines traditional microbial ecological and geochemical measurements with modern molecular techniques, such as SSU rRNA libraries, stable isotope probing (SIP), fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), and quantitative PCR of functional genes and their expression, to unravel the interplay between chemical gradients, elemental cycling and microbial population dynamics.

    Our holy grail has been to understand the role(s) of specific microbial populations across wide-ranging geochemical seascapes. Making such linkages improves inferences about the role of specific microorganisms discovered within massive genomic databases. To that end, we have built an exciting analytical service center within SoMAS - the NAno-Raman Molecular Imaging Laboratory (NARMIL), through NSF’s Major Research Instrumentation funding. NARMIL houses a novel, state-of-the-art Renishaw inVia confocal laser Raman microspectrophotometer which permits 3-D mapping of biomolecules, minerals, and synthetic materials, while also providing fluorescent, bright field and differential interference contrast (DIC) images. By combining SIP, phylogenetic FISH probes and Raman mapping, we determine identity of individual cells and their activity in assimilating isotopic labels. NARMIL also houses a Bruker Innova Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), which produces topographic images comparable to scanning electron microscopy, but under standard lab conditions. Coupling these instruments enables nanometer-scale chemical maps of specimen surfaces. NARMIL provides SoMAS with unique and powerful analytical tools with countless applications throughout the natural sciences, biomedicine, and engineering. We are enthusiastically exploring new research frontiers with these novel capabilities! For example, Raman microspectroscopy has enabled identification and quantification of microplastics (0.5-500 mm diameter) and microbial degradation in the ocean. This technology has also allowed us to measure single-cell growth rates of heterotrophic and autotrophic microorganisms. To learn more about our facility, please visit:

  • Publications


    Grujcic V, Taylor GT, Foster RA. (2022) One cell at a time: advancements in single cell methods and instrumentation for discovery in aquatic microbiology. Frontiers in Microbiology. 13:881018.doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2022.881018

    Suter EA, Pachiadaki M, Taylor GT, Edgcomb VP. (2022) Eukaryotic parasites are integral to a productive microbial food web in oxygen-depleted waters. Frontiers in Microbiology, 12:764605. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2021.764605

    Yakubovskaya E, Zaliznyak, T, Martínez Martínez J, TaylorGT. (2021) Raman microspectroscopy goes viral: Infection dynamics in the cosmopolitan microalgae, Emiliania huxleyi.Frontiers in Microbiology, 12:686287, doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.686287.

    Lee KS, Landry Z, Pereira,FC,  Wagner M, Berry D, Huang WE, Taylor GT, Kneipp J, Popp J, Zhang M, Cheng J-X and Stocker R (2021) Raman microspectroscopy for microbiology. Nature Reviews Methods Primers 1, 80.

    Weber F, Zaliznyak T, Edgcomb VP, Taylor GT. (2021) Using stable isotope probing and Raman microspectroscopy to measure growth rates of heterotrophic bacteria. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 87:e01460-21.

    Cohen AB, Novkov-Bloom A, Wesselborg C, Yagudaeva M, Taylor GT. (2021) Fluorescence in situ hybridization in natural systems with Cyanobacteria blooms: procedural artifacts and potential solutions. Limnology and Oceanogrpahy: Methods.  doi: 10.1002/lom3.10437

    Medina Faull LE, Zaliznyak T, and Taylor GT. (2021) Assessing diversity, abundance, and mass of microplastics (~ 1–300 μm) in aquatic systems Limnology and Oceanography: Methods. doi: 10.1002/lom3.10430

    Nayfach S, Roux S, Seshadri R, Udwary D, Varghese N Schulz F, IMG/M Data Consortium, et al. (2020). A Genomic Catalogue of Earth’s Microbiomes. Nature Biotechnology

    Suter EA, Pachiadaki MG, Montes E, Edgcomb VP, Scranton MI, Taylor CD, Taylor GT. (2020) Diverse nitrogen cycling pathways across a marine oxygen gradient indicate nitrogen loss coupled to chemoautotrophic activity Environmental Microbiology doi:10.1111/1462-2920.15187

    Mara P, Vik D, Pachiadaki MG, Suter EA, Poulos B, Taylor GT, Sullivan MB, Edgcomb VP. (2020). Viral elements and their potential influence on microbial processes along the permanently-stratified Cariaco Basin redoxcline. International Society for Microbial Ecology Journal.

    Medina Faull L, Mara P, Taylor GT, Edgcomb VP. (2020). Imprint of trace dissolved oxygen on prokaryoplankton community structure in an oxygen minimum zone. Frontiers Mar. Sci. 7:360 doi:10.3389/fmars.2020.00360    

    Yakubovskaya E, Zaliznyak T, Martinez Martinez J, Taylor GT (2020). Virus purification protocol for Ehv-163 and other viruses.

    Yakubovskaya E, Zaliznyak T, Martinez Martinez J, Taylor GT (2020). New chemiphotobleaching protocol for Raman spectroscopy.

    Scranton MI, Taylor GT, Thunell RC,  Muller-Karger FE, Astor Y, Swart P, Edgcomb VP, Pachiadaki MG (2020). Anomalous d13C in POC at the chemoautotrophy maximum in the Cariaco Basin. J Geophys. Res. – Biogeosciences, 125, e2019JG005276; doi:10.1029/2019JG005276.

    Yakubovskaya, E, Zaliznyak T, Martínez Martínez J. Taylor GT (2019). Tear down the fluorescent curtain: A new fluorescence suppression method for Raman microspectroscopic analyses. Scientific Reports, 9: 15785. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-52321-3

    Taylor GT.  (2019). Windows into microbial seascapes: Advances in nanoscale imaging and application to marine science. Annual Review of Marine Sciences 11: 13.1-13.26.

    Louca S, Astor YM, Doebeli M, Taylor GT, Scranton MI. (2019) Microbial metabolite fluxes in a model marine anoxic ecosystem. Geobiology 17:628–642. doi: 10.1111/gbi.12357

    Weber, F, Zaliznyak, T, Taylor GT (2019) Sample preparation for 3D-Raman microspectroscopic mapping of fully hydrated protist cells.

    Louca S, Scranton MI, Taylor GT, Crowe SA, & Doebeli M. (2019). Circumventing kinetics in biogeochemical models. Proc. Nat’l. Acad. Sci. (USA)

    Muller-Karger F, Astor Y, Benitez-Nelson C, Buck K, Fanning K, Lorenzoni L, Montes E, Scranton M, Rueda-Roa D, Taylor G, Thunell R, Tappa E, Varela R. (2019). Scientific legacy of the CARIACO oceanographic time-series program. Annual Review of Marine Sciences 11:5.1-5.25.

    Jürgens K Taylor GT. (2018) Chap. 7: Microbial ecology and biogeochemistry of oxygen-deficient water columns, In: Microbial Ecology of the Oceans, 3rd Edn., Wiley Blackwell Press (Gasol JM & Kirchman DL, eds.), Chap. 7, p. 231-288.

    Taylor GT, Suter EA, Pachiadaki MG, Astor Y, Edgcomb VP, Scranton MI. (2018). Temporal Shifts in dominant sulfur-oxidizing chemoautotrophic populations across the Cariaco Basin’s redoxcline. Deep-Sea Res,

    Suter EA, Pachiadaki MG, Taylor GT, Astor Y, Edgcomb VP. (2018) Free-living chemoautotrophic and particle-attached heterotrophic prokaryotes dominate microbial assemblages along a pelagic marine redox gradient. Environ Microbiol, 20(2): 693-712.  doi:10.1111/1462-2920.13997.

    Taylor GT, Suter E, Li Z-Q, Chow S, Stinton D, Zaliznyak T, Beaupré S. (2017) Single-cell growth rates in photoautotrophic populations measured by stable isotope probing and resonance Raman microspectrometry. Frontiers in Microbiol  doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.01449

    Cernadas-Martín S, Scranton MI, Astor Y, Taylor GT. (2017) Aerobic and anaerobic ammonia oxidizers in the Cariaco Basin: Identification, quantification and community structure.  Aquatic Micrbiol Ecol 79: 31–48, DOI: 10.3354/ame01817.

    Kang Y, Tang Y-Z, Taylor GT, Gobler CJ. (2017). Discovery of a resting stage in the harmful, brown tide-causing pelagophyte, Aureoumbra lagunensis: a mechanism facilitating recurring blooms and recent expansion? J Phycol 53: 118-130.DOI: 10.1111/jpy.12485

    Suter EA, Scranton MI, Chow S, Medina L, Taylor GT. (2017). Niskin bottle sample collection can alias microbial community composition and biogeochemical interpretation. Limnol Oceanogr 62: 606-617. DOI: 10.1002/lno.10447

    Rodriguez-Mora M, Edgcomb V, Taylor C, Taylor GT, Scranton M, Chistoserdov A (2016). The diversity of sulfide oxidation and sulfate reduction genes expressed by the bacterial communities of the Cariaco Basin, Venezuela. Open Microbiol Jour 10: 140-149

    Rodriguez-Mora M, Scranton M, Taylor GT, Chistoserdov A. 2015. The dynamics of the bacterial diversity in the redox transition and anoxic zones of the Cariaco Basin assessed by massively parallel tag sequencing. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 91: doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiv088.

    Liu L, Lwiza KMM Taylor GT (2015). Importance of the bacterial dynamics in model simulations of seasonal hypoxia.  Cont. Shelf Res. 105: 1-17.

    Suter E, Lwiza KMM, Rose JM, Gobler C, Taylor GT (2014). Nutrient and phytoplankton regime shifts during decadal decreases in nitrogen loadings to the urbanized Long Island Sound estuary. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 497: 51-67.

    Scranton MI, Taylor GT, Thunell R, Benitez-Nelson C, Muller-Karger F, Fanning K, Lorenzoni L, Montes E, Varela R, Astor Y (2014). Interannual and decadal variability in the nutrient geochemistry of the Cariaco Basin. Oceanography Magazine 27(1): 148-159.

    Astor YM, Lorenzoni L, Thunell R, Varela R, Muller-Karger F, Troccoli L, Taylor GT, Scranton MI, Tappa E Rueda D (2013). Interannual variability in sea surface temperature and fCO2 changes in the Cariaco Basin, Deep-Sea Research II, 93, 33–43.

    Sarmento H, Romera-Castillo C, Lindh M, Pinhassi J, Montserrat Sala M, Gasol JM, Marrase´ C, Taylor GT (2013). Phytoplankton species-specific release of dissolved free amino acids and their selective consumption by bacteria.  Limnol. Oceanogr. 58(3), 1123–1135.

    Orsi W,Edgcomb V, FariaJ, Foissner W, Fowle WH, Hohmann T, Suarez P, Taylor C, Taylor GT, Vďačný P & Epstein SS (2012). Class Cariacotrichea, a novel ciliate taxon from the anoxic Cariaco Basin,Venezuela. Internat’l Jour System Evolutionary Microbio. 62: 1425–1433.

    Podlaska A, Wakeham SG, Fanning K, Taylor GT (2012). Microbial community structure and chemoautotrophic activity in the oxygen minimum zone of the eastern tropical North Pacific. Deep-Sea Res. I, 66: 77-89.

    Taylor GT, Muller-Karger F, Thunell RC, Scranton MI, Astor Y, Varela R, Troccoli-Ghinaglia L, Lorenzoni L, Fanning KA, Hameed S, Doherty O (2012). Ecosystem response to global climate change in the southern Caribbean Sea. Featured Article in Proc. Nat’l. Acad. Sci. (USA) 109(47): 19315-19320.

    Finiguerra MB, Escribano DF, Taylor GT (2011). Light-independent mechanisms of virion inactivation in coastal marine systems. Hydrobiologia, 665: 51-66.

    Edgcomb V, Orsi W, Taylor GT, Vdacny P, Taylor C, Suarez P, Epstein S (2011). Accessing marine protists from the anoxic Cariaco Basin. J. Int Soc Microb Ecol. 5(8): 1237-1241.

    Edgcomb V, Orsi W, Bunge J, Jeon SO, Christen R, Leslin C, Holder M, Taylor GT, Suarez P, Varela R, Epstein S (2011). Protistan microbial observatory in the Cariaco Basin, Caribbean. I. Pyrosequencing vs Sanger insights into species richness. J Int Soc Microb Ecol. 5(8): 1344-1356. 

    Orsi W, Edgcomb V, Jeon SO, Bunge J, Taylor GT, Varela R, Epstein S (2011). Protistan microbial observatory in the Cariaco Basin, Caribbean. II. Habitat specialization. J Int Soc Microb Ecol. 5(8): 1357-1373.

    Taylor GT, Thunell RC, Varela R, Benitez-Nelson C & Scranton MI (2009). Hydrolytic ectoenzyme activity associated with suspended and sinking organic particles above and within the anoxic Cariaco Basin. Deep-Sea Res. I, 56: 1266-1283.

    Taylor GT, Scranton MI, Iabichella M, Ho T-Y, Thunell RC, Muller-Karger F, Varela R (2001). Chemoautotrophy in the redox transition zone of the Cariaco Basin: A significant midwater source of organic carbon production. Limnol Oceanogr 46: 148-163.

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