News & Events

Just follow the ‘butterfly’

January 9, 2020

Have you ever wondered what Earth was like in its distant past? It was indeed very different from today. For one, the atmosphere contained no oxygen, so none of us would have survived it. This all changed when cyanobacteria arose – microbes that release oxygen from photosynthesis. Over an incredibly long period of time, the cyanobacteria continued to release oxygen, and little by little, it changed the Earth’s chemistry. They first oxidized the Earth’s minerals, and oceans -- and, then...

First-of-its-kind microbial nursery grand opening

May 1, 2019

Microbiologist Ferran Garcia-Pichel has been on a mission to solve a particularly gritty problem: How can we keep the Earth’s natural topsoil tethered to the ground and out of the air – a particularly challenging problem in the desert, where haboobs and other natural processes can kick up some significant dust. In Arizona, particulate matter is the top source of pollution. As dirt flies away, it becomes dust and pollutes the air, causing issues for public health and the environment. For...

Garcia-Pichel recognized at Governor’s Celebration of Innovation

November 9, 2018

Arizona State University celebrates innovation every day. Once a year, the state of Arizona shines a light on those who do it best. This year, ASU professor and researcher Ferran Garcia-Pichel and his lab were recognized as finalists for the Governor’s Innovator of the Year – Academia award. The finalists were acknowledged at the Governor’s Celebration of Innovation event on Thursday, Nov. 8 at the Convention Center in downtown Phoenix. The award ceremony was held...

Garcia-Pichel named finalist for Governor’s Innovation Award

October 15, 2018

Arizona State University celebrates innovation every day. Once a year, the state of Arizona shines a light on those who do it best. This year, ASU professor and researcher Ferran Garcia-Pichel and his lab have been named a finalist for Innovator of the Year in academia for the Governor's Celebration of Innovation. The other finalists are Laurence Hurley at the University of Arizona, and Yasin Silva and Deborah Hall of ASU West. Silva and Hall are being recognized for their BullyBlocker app,...

Continental microbes helped seed ancient seas with nitrogen

June 28, 2018

Like our oceans, today’s continents are brimming with life. Yet billions of years ago, before the advent of plants, continents would have appeared barren. These apparently vacant land forms were believed to play no role in the early biochemical clockwork known as the nitrogen cycle, which most living things depend on for survival. Now, ASU researcher Ferran Garcia-Pichel, along with Christophe Thomazo, from the Laboratoire Biogéosciences in Dijon, France,  and Estelle Couradeau, a...

Drawing blood from a stone: photosynthetic microbiomes found to live on carbon source of the rocks they excavate

October 20, 2017

A little sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. That is all it takes to keep cyanobacteria --the miniature versions of plants--- happy. For this, they use carbon fixation, one of the most important reactions on Earth, turning carbon dioxide into sugars, fats and proteins needed to grow and thrive, while giving humans and the rest of animals a precious byproduct: the oxygen in the air we breathe.   While land plants get most of their carbon dioxide from the air, aquatic microalgae...

ASU joins aggressive White House initiative to probe the mysteries of the microbiome

May 13, 2016

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced today a new National Microbiome Initiative (NMI) to foster the integrated study of microbiomes across different ecosystems. Helping lead the initiative is Dr. Ferran Garcia-Pichel, dean of natural sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University and founding director of the Biodesign Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics, which launched today in concert with...

ASU, White House collaborate to investigate mysteries of microorganisms

May 13, 2016

We asked Garcia-Pichel to explain microbiomes, from where they come, the reasons they are important and why it is the right time to studying them more closely. Question: What is a microbe? Answer: A microbiome is the collective ecological community of microbes that reside in an environment, like a human body, a desert or a river. part is really easy. It is a living organism that you cannot see with your naked eye. Q: Where do microbes live? A: They live everywhere. You...

ASU scientists discover how one microorganism erodes coral reefs

May 9, 2016

Coral reefs and hard-shelled sea creatures such as oysters and mussels are constantly being threatened, not only by the detrimental effects of stressors such as climate change and habitat loss, but also by microorganisms. Researchers from Arizona State University have discovered how a particular type of cyanobacteria, a photosynthetic microbe, is able to bore into and live within solid carbonates, the main mineral that makes up coral skeletons and seashells — hastening their erosion and...

ASU receives $1.5M Keck Foundation award to study the origin of Earth’s water

February 16, 2016

Arizona State University has received a $1.5 million award from the W.M. Keck Foundation’s  Science and Engineering Research Grant Program to study the origin of Earth’s water and hydrogen.    The project, entitled "Water from the Heavens: The Origins of Earth’s Hydrogen," will be headed by Principal Investigator and Regents’ Professor Peter Buseck, of the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the School of Molecular Sciences. “True to the Sun Devil...