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Miller, Scott R.

Dr. Scott R. Miller

Assistant Professor
Division of Biological Sciences
University of Montana
Missoula, MT
Research Interests

My research integrates the analysis of molecular sequence variation with laboratory physiology and field ecology to address fundamental questions about the origins and maintenance of microbial diversity in nature.  How do microorganisms adapt to novel environments?  Does adaptation come with evolutionary costs?  Are changes in ecology always adaptive?  How do evolutionary processes, environmental variation and geography combine to produce the patterns of genotypic and phenotypic diversity observed in microbial populations?  I focus on the evolution of environmental tolerance in cyanobacteria, an ancient group of photosynthetic bacteria found in a wide range of habitats.  Current projects investigate: (1) the genetic basis of temperature adaptation in a group of hot spring cyanobacteria (Synechococcus) living at or near the thermal limit for photosynthetic life; (2) how microevolutionary processes and demographic factors shape the distribution, nitrogen metabolism and thermotolerance of the thermophilic cyanobacterium Mastigocladus at different geographic scales; and (3) the molecular evolution of a novel cyanobacterial light harvesting system based on chlorophyll d.

I currently have support for a graduate student research assistant to investigate the thermal performance of the Calvin cycle enzyme RuBisCO in ecologically differentiated Synechococcus with molecular evolutionary, biochemical and physiological approaches.