Jed Fuhrman, Ph.D.

Distribution and Diversity of Marine Microbes


Studying the distribution, diversity, and activities of a wide range of microorganisms living in marine systems, including viruses, bacteria, archaea, and protists.

Jed Fuhrman, Ph.D.

Research Description

Despite great strides in our understanding about the importance and diversity of marine microbial communities, most of what we know tends to show how the system works in a piecemeal fashion rather than as a big picture. Marine microorganisms are controlled by many influences, which include externally-imposed physical and chemical surroundings, as well as complex interactions among the organisms, such as cross-feeding, competition, cooperation, predation, and infection.

This project examines these multiple levels of control, with a wide and integrated viewpoint rather than a narrow focus. Specifically, we aim to generate a fundamental understanding of principal interactions and feedback loops among major players of marine microbial communities. To achieve this, we intend to simultaneously address how nutrient inputs, microbial predators, and viral infection work together in complex ways to control microbial communities and their activities. Most of the fieldwork for this project will be done at our long-standing USC Microbial Observatory site at the San Pedro Ocean Time Series and at USC’s Wrigley Marine Science Center on Santa Catalina Island.

Research Impact

We know that marine microorganisms are critically important components of marine and global biogeochemical cycles, for example in overall productivity, production and consumption of greenhouse gases, nutrient cycling, etc. Yet the comprehensive mechanisms by which these processes occur are very poorly understood because most research tends to be scaled to focus on one level at a time or on particular organisms or groups of organisms, not on multiple trophic levels that may include viruses, protists, bacteria and archaea that all interact together to end up with the systems we find in the real world.

The integrated approach in this project is expected to greatly improve our understanding of these systems because it will not be focused on specific target organisms alone. Instead, it will scale up the perspective to include the entire suite of co-occurring microorganisms, from viruses to protists, and environmental conditions. It is expected to be highly complementary to other MMI-funded projects where particular organisms are studied in great detail. We expect that the broad-scale perspective knowledge generated by this project can be integrated with fine-scale information from other projects, to provide a much more comprehensive understanding of what controls the microbial components of marine systems.

Media Press

USC Dornsife - Fuhrman Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

USC Dornsife - Marine Biologist Takes Risks


related links

Marine Microbiology Initiative Science University of Southern California, Office of Research Back


Ph.D., Oceanography
Scripps Institution of  Oceanography
University of  California, San Diego, 1981

S.B., Biology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1977


Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2013

G. Evelyn Hutchinson Medal (American Society of Limnology & Oceanography), 2006

Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, 2003

Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1997

ISI Highly Cited Researcher, 2002 - present

Albert S. Raubenheimer Outstanding Faculty Award (USC), 2006

Faculty of 1000 member, 2012


Chow, C. E., D. Y. Kim, R. Sachdeva, D. A. Caron, & J. A. Fuhrman. (2014). Top-down controls on bacterial community structure: microbial network analysis of bacteria, T4-like viruses and protists. ISME J, 8(4), 816-829. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2013.199

Chow, C. E., R. Sachdeva, J. A. Cram, J. A. Steele, D. M. Needham, A. Patel, A. E. Parada, & J. A. Fuhrman. (2013). Temporal variability and coherence of euphotic zone bacterial communities over a decade in the Southern California Bight. ISME J, 7(12), 2259-2273. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2013.122

Needham, D. M., C. E. Chow, J. A. Cram, R. Sachdeva, A. Parada, & J. A. Fuhrman. (2013). Short-term observations of marine bacterial and viral communities: patterns, connections and resilience. ISME J, 7(7), 1274-1285. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2013.19

Xia, L. C., D. Ai, J. Cram, J. A. Fuhrman, & F. Sun. (2013). Efficient statistical significance approximation for local similarity analysis of high-throughput time series data. Bioinformatics, 29(2), 230-237. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/bts668

Hanson China, Horner-Devine M. Claire, Martiny Jennifer B.H., and Fuhrman Jed A. (2013). Microbial Biogeography. In: Levin S.A. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Biodiversity, second edition, Volume 5, pp. 271-279. Waltham, MA: Academic Press

Harwood, V. J., A. B. Boehm, L. M. Sassoubre, K. Vijayavel, J. R. Stewart, T. T. Fong, M. P. Caprais, R. R. Converse, D. Diston, J. Ebdon, J. A. Fuhrman, M. Gourmelon, J. Gentry-Shields, J. F. Griffith, D. R. Kashian, R. T. Noble, H. Taylor, & M. Wicki. (2013). Performance of viruses and bacteriophages for fecal source determination in a multi-laboratory, comparative study. Water Res, 47(18), 6929-6943. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2013.04.064

Affiliated Investigators