In most environments, microbes thrive and billions live together. Although invisible to us, these billions of microbes perform key biogeochemical functions, such as carbon cycling and primary production, that enable other life to exist. In the Tai lab, we investigate who are these billions of microbes, how do they interact with each other and with other members of the community, what are they doing, and how does their activity shape their environment and their ecosystem. Our research involves community ecology, biogeography, evolution, genomics, and bioinformatics. Most recently, my research has centred around the microbes inhabiting marine beaches and the fascinating symbiotic microbial communities in the hindguts of termites.
Degrees and Institutions
B.Sc. Biology, University of New Brunswick
M.Sc. Botany, University of British Columbia
Ph.D. Marine Biology, University of California, San Diego
Biology 1201A - General Biology I
Biology 3224G - Selected Topics - Aquatic Ecology
Tai, V., Carpenter, K. J., Weber, P. K., Nalepa, C. A., Perlman, S. J., Keeling, P. J. 2016. Genome evolution and nitrogen fixation in bacterial ectosymbionts of a protist inhabiting wood-feeding cockroaches. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 82: 4682-4695.
Strassert, J. F. H, Tikhonenkov, D. V., Pombert, J.-F., Kolisko, M., Tai, V., Mylnikov, A. P., and Keeling, P. J. 2016. Moramonas marocensis gen. nov., sp. nov.: a jakobid flagellate isolated from desert soil with a bacteria-like, but bloated mitochondrial genome. Open Biology. 6: 150239.
Tai, V., James, E. R., Nalepa, C. A., Scheffrahn, R. H., Perlman, S. J., and Keeling, P. J. 2015. The role of host phylogeny varies in structuring the microbial communities in the hindguts of lower termites. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 81: 1059-1070.
Tai, V., Gile, G. H., Pan, J., James, E. R., Carpenter, K. J., Scheffrahn, R. H., Keeling, P. J. 2014. The phylogenetic position of Kofoidia loriculata (Parabasalia) and its implications for the evolution of the Cristamonadea. Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology. 62: 255-259.
Tai, V., James, E. R., Perlman, S. J., and Keeling, P. J. 2013. Single-cell barcoding using sequences from the small subunit rRNA and internal transcribed spacer region identifies new species of Trichonympha and Trichomitopsis from the hindgut of the termite Zootermopsis angusticollis. PLoS ONE. 8: e58728.
James, E. R., Tai, V., Scheffrahn, R. H., and Keeling, P. J. 2013. Trichonympha burlesquei from Reticulitermes virginicus and evidence against a cosmopolitan distribution of Trichonympha agilis in many termite hosts. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. 63: 3873-3876. doi:10.1099/ijs.0.054874-0
Tai, V., Poon, A. F. Y., Paulsen, I. T., and Palenik, B. 2011. Selection in coastal Synechococcus (Cyanobacteria) populations evaluated from environmental metagenomes. PLoS ONE 6(9): e24249.
Lucas, A. J. Dupont, C. L., Tai, V., Largier, J. L., Palenik, B., and Franks, P. J. S. 2011. The green ribbon: Multi-scale physical control of phytoplankton productivity and community structure over a narrow continental shelf. Limnology and Oceanography. 56: 611-626.
Tai, V., Burton, R. S., and Palenik, B. 2011. Temporal and spatial distributions of marine Synechococcus in the Southern California Bight assessed by hybridization to bead-arrays. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 426: 133-147.