Clara Ruiz-González

Personal Investigador Senior

I am interested in understanding the links between prokaryotic diversity and function in aquatic ecosystems, as well as in exploring how the connectivity and the dispersal of microbes between local communities or ecosystems may influence such links. In order to address these questions, I use different methods and approaches, such as single-cell techniques or Illumina sequencing, and I have worked in ecosystems as different as rivers, lakes, soils, estuaries, the ocean, and more recently, in coastal groundwater.

During my career, I have progressively moved from a detailed experimental assessment of the responses of marine microbes to environmental factors using microscope techniques, towards a more comprehensive exploration of the regional and historical processes shaping microbial communities, by means of large-scale samplings of terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems and massive DNA sequencing. This shift made me aware of the relevance of dispersal for shaping the diversity and activity of aquatic microbial communities, which is one of my main current research objectives.

At the ICM, I am presently investigating the microbial aspects associated to a hydrologic pathway known as submarine groundwater discharge or SGD, which is the flow of groundwater from coastal aquifers to the ocean. I am exploring the diversity, function and connectivity of microbial communities along the groundwater-seawater continuum, trying to determine the role that microbes play in the chemical fluxes associated to SGD and in the ecological consequences of SGD in coastal marine environments. Given that the ocean cannot be understood without considering its linkages with the surrounding terrestrial habitats, I try to build my research across traditionally separate disciplines such as limnology and oceanography.