Hewson Lab at Cornell

Team Aquatic Virus - Microbial Oceanography, P.I. Ian Hewson, Ph.D.

Welcome to the Hewson Lab at Cornell!

With Summer 2012 almost three-quarters over, the Hewson Lab is still going full steam. We've created this website to better showcase to the Cornell and greater scientific communities what's going on now in the lab and what we've accomplished in the past. If you're interested what we're doing, a principal investigator looking to collaborate, a student interested in getting involved, an organization reviewing grant proposals or just someone curious about the topic of marine Microbiology, you're come to the right place!

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We've added a lot of new content and we're always adding more! You can also check out the broader and also brand new Marine Biology at Cornell website, which features the Hewson Lab and several other labs in marine science at Cornell. We're really excited to bring both Team Aquatic Virus and the greater marine science community up to speed with the modern web. Check us out and tell us what you think!

Check out the brand new interview with Ian on the also brand new About Us page! If you ever wondered more about Team Aquatic Virus, the name, the logo or about Ian this is truly worth the read!

Past, Present and Future Research

Overview and Research Goals

Research in the Hewson laboratory combines biological oceanography and microbial ecology (known as microbial oceanography) and focuses upon understanding the structure and function of the marine microbial loop and how it relates to biogeochemical function on local and global scales. Questions addressed in the lab include: How do marine viruses influence elemental cycling in the ocean? What controls the composition and activities of microbial assemblages in seawater and sediments? Work in the field onboard ocean-going research vessels, at marine field stations, and in the marine microbiology laboratory at Cornell employs approaches from traditional oceanographic and microbiological techniques through to assemblage fingerprinting and high-throughput sequencing of metagenomes and assemblage gene transcripts.

Environmental Virology

Marine viruses are extremely abundant in freshwater and marine habitats, with densities of 107 -109 particles per ml, however we are only starting to understand their roles in bacterial, eukaryotic microbial, and metazoan ecology. Because the majority of dominant aquatic taxa are either uncultivated or not tolerant of captivity, study of their viral interactions demands use of cultivation-independent tools. My lab uses metaviromics (shotgun sequencing of mixed viral assemblages) to study the diversity of viruses associated with bloom-forming cyanobacteria in the open ocean, dominant microscopic herbivores (Cladocerans and Copepods), and viral assemblages associated with not-well understood diseases in benthic invertebrates (e.g. Aspergillosis in Gorgonian Sea Fans). This information is then used to elucidate via post-genomic approaches the prevalence, transmission and environmental reservoirs of uncultivated viruses in aquatic habitats. The ultimate goal of these studies are to understand the viral impact on ecosystem-level processes (e.g. nutrient cycling) within freshwater and marine habitats.

Find out more on the Publications, Projects and Protocols pages.

About Ian Hewson, Ph.D.

Ian Hewson is a biological oceanographer and microbial ecologist who focuses on viral ecology in aquatic habitats. He did his undergraduate degree in botany at the University of Queensland (2000) where he conducted a study on the distribution and impact on algal photosythesis of benthic and pelagic viruses along trophic gradients in estuaries as part of an honors degree. He then pursued a PhD in Marine Environmental Biology at the University of Southern California (2005) where his thesis examined the viral impacts on bacterial host assemblage composition. After a postdoc at the University of California, Santa Cruz in metagenomics and metatranscriptomics he joined the faculty in the Department of Microbiology in January 2009.

Selected Recent Publications

Hewson I, Ng G, Li W, LaBarre BA, Aguirre I, Barbosa JG, Breitbart M, Greco AW, Kearns CM, Looi A, Schaffner LR, Thompson PD, Hairston NG (2013) "Metagenomic identification, seasonal dynamics and potential transmission mechanisms of a Daphnia-associated putative RNA-DNA hybrid virus in two temperate lakes" Limnology and Oceanography in press

Brown JM, LaBarre BA, Hewson I (2013) "Characterization of Trichodesmium-associated viral communities in the eastern Gulf of Mexico" FEMS Microbiology Ecology 84: 603-613

Hewson I, Eaglesham JB, Hook TO, LaBarre BA, Sepulveda MS, Thompson PD, Watkins JM, Rudstam LG (2013) "Investigation of viruses associated with Diporeia spp. from the Laurentian Great Lakes and Owasco Lake, NY as a potential stressor of declining populations" Journal of Great Lakes Research in press

Dunlap DS, Ng TFF, Rosario K, Barbosa JG, Greco AM, Breitbart M, Hewson I (2013) "Molecular and microscopic evidence of viruses in marine copepods" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 110:1375-1380

Simonis JL, Neuharth-Keusch D, Hewson I (2012) "Aquatic bacterial assemblage variability in the supra littoral zone of Appledore Island, Gulf of Maine" FEMS Microbiology Ecology 80:501–508

Brown JM, Felice NR, Scalfone, NB, Hewson I (2012) "Influence of habitat confluence on aquatic microbial assemblages in experimental mesocosms" Aquatic Microbial Ecology 66: 33-40

Hewson I, Brown JM, Burge CA, Couch CS, LaBarre BA, Mouchka ME, Naito M, Harvell CD (2012) "Viral assemblages associated with healthy and aspergillosis-affected tissues of the Gorgonia ventalina holobiont" Coral Reefs

Wilhelm MB, Hewson I, (in press) "Characterization of thrombolic bioherm cyanobacterial communities in a meromictic lake (Fayetteville Green Lake)" Geomicrobiology Journal