About the Lab
If you’ve hiked in the mountains or travelled to one of the poles, you’ve likely seen Watermelon Snow. Large swaths of orange, green, or most often, watermelon-red snow is a sign of a thriving microscopic community dominated by single-celled algae. Watermelon snow is not new: It appears in Captain John Ross’ report of the 1818 expedition in search of the NW Passage and in Charles Darwin’s report of his 1835 hike over the Andes. Because algal blooms reduce the albedo of snow, they accelerate the melting of seasonal snow fields. Alpine snow fields provide an important store of water for urban centers around the world. We want to understand the blooms and learn whether they are increasing in scope, duration, and intensity with global warming.
Until 2016, the Quarmby lab studied the assembly and disassembly of cilia, and the connection of these processes to cell cycle regulation. Please enjoy this one-minute animation describing that work:
Most of our lab publications are open source and can be found listed in this Google Scholar search result. Recent publications include photos of watermelon snow, snow algae, and the snow algae microbiome.
Ongoing studies in the Quarmby Lab include the following:
- Describing and naming new species of snow algae.
- Changes in bloom extent, duration, and intensity over the past two decades using satellite images, calibrated with on-the-ground measurements.
- Life histories of algae in genus Sanguina.
- Cross-species metabolic interactions within the snow algae microbiome.
People of the Lab
Lynne Quarmby, Professor