Eric Webb

Professor of Biological Sciences and Environmental Studies
Eric Webb
Email Office AHF 137 Office Phone (213) 740-7954


  • Ph.D. Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 6/1999
  • B.S. Microbiology, The Ohio State University, 6/1994
    • Postdoc Scholar, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 1999-2001
  • Tenure Track Appointments

    • Associate Professor, University of Southern California, 05/13/2011 –
    • Assistant Professor, University of Southern California, 07/16/2006 – 05/13/2011
    • Associate Scientist without Tenure, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 02/01/2006 – 07/15/2006
    • Assistant Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 10/01/2001 – 01/31/2006
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    Marine cyanobacterial physiology, ecology, and genomics. Development of molecular methods to monitor nutrient and trace metal stress in situ in marine cyanobacteria; Molecular characterization of the Fe scavenging system of marine cyanobacteria and heterotrophic bacteria; secondary metabolite production (antibiotics and toxins) by marine and estuarine cyanobacteria.

    Research Keywords

    Marine Cyanobacteria,
    Microbial Ecology,
    Fe scavenging strategies

    Detailed Statement of Research Interests

    Bacteria play key roles in Earth’s food chain dynamics and biogeochemistry. The factors that control their growth directly impact global processes. The open ocean cyanobacteria studied in my laboratory, including species of Synechococcus, Trichodesmium, and Crocosphaera, are prominent constituents of the marine biosphere that account for a significant percentage of global primary productivity. Additionally, the warm water diazotrophic cyanobacteria (i.e., Trichodesmium and Crocosphaera) are vital components the global nitrogen cycle through their production of “new” nitrogen. One major scientific focus in my lab is the physiology and ecology of these marine and some freshwater cyanobacteria with particular emphasis on characterizing the mechanisms they use to acquire the essential element iron (Fe) from the environment. Since in many cases the nutrient constraining their growth and productivity in situ is difficult to define, I am also developing molecular diagnostics of nutrient limitation that can be implemented in the field. In the open ocean heterotrophic bacteria are also abundant and therefore can have a significant impact on the global carbon cycle through their remineralization of phytoplanktonic products to CO2. In addition to competing with cyanobacteria for many of the same resources, these heterotrophic bacteria are producers of ligands that keep Fe in solution and make it more available to themselves and likely to the cyanobacteria as well. To begin to understand the interplay between these two bacteria groups, my group is also studying the Fe scavenging systems employed by select oceanic heterotrophic bacteria. Although all of these microorganisms are environmentally significant, relatively little is known about their metabolic capabilities at the molecular level in the laboratory and in the field. By studying their physiology using biochemical, genetic, proteomic, and genomic techniques, we will gain new insights into the factors that limit their growth in situ and greatly increase our understanding of how their metabolic capabilities impact global processes and ecosystem health.

  • Journal Article

    • Walworth, N., Pfreundt, U., Nelson, W. C., Mincer, T., Heidelberg, J. F., Fu, F., Waterbury, J. B., del Rio, T. G., Goodwin, L., Kyrpides, N. C., Land, M. L., Woyke, T., Hutchins, D. A., Hess, W. R., Webb, E. A. (2015). Trichodesmium genome maintains abundant, widespread noncoding DNA in situ, despite oligotrophic lifestyle. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America/National Acad Sciences. pp. 201422332.
    • Momper, L. M., Reese, B. K., Carvalho, G., Lee, P., Webb, E. A. (2014). A novel cohabitation between two diazotrophic cyanobacteria in the oligotrophic ocean. The ISME Journal/Nature Publishing Group.
    • Sañudo-Wilhelmy, S. A., Gómez-Consarnau, L., Suffridge, C., Webb, E. A. (2014). The Role of B Vitamins in Marine Biogeochemistry. Annual Reviews. Vol. 6 (1), pp. 339-367.
    • Fu, F. X., Yu, E., Garcia, N. S., Gale, J., Luo, Y., Webb, E. A., Hutchins, D. A. (2014). Differing responses of marine N2 fixers to warming and consequences for future diazotroph community structure. Aquatic Microbial …. Vol. 72, pp. 33-46.
    • Rivers, A. R., Rose, A. L., Webb, E. A. (2013). An online calculator for marine phytoplankton iron culturing experiments. Journal Of Phycology. Vol. 49 (5), pp. 1017-1021.
    • Hutchins, D. A., Fu, F., Webb, E. A., Walworth, N., Tagliabue, A. (2013). Taxon-specific response of marine nitrogen fixers to elevated carbon dioxide concentrations. Nature Geoscience. Vol. 6 (9), pp. 790-795.
    • Barada, L. P., Cutter, L., Montoya, J. P., Webb, E. A., Capone, D. G., Sañudo-Wilhelmy, S. A. (2013). The distribution of thiamin and pyridoxine in the western tropical North Atlantic Amazon River plume. Frontiers in microbiology. Vol. 4
    • Luo, Y. W., Doney, S. C., Anderson, L. A., Benavides, M., Berman-Frank, I., Bode, A., Bonnet, S., Boström, K. H., Böttjer, D., Capone, D. G., Carpenter, E. J., Chen, Y. L., Church, M. J., Dore, J. E., Falcón, L. I., Fernández, A., Foster, R. A., Furuya, K., Gómez, F., Gundersen, K., Hynes, A. M., Karl, D. M., Kitajima, S., Langlois, R. J., LaRoche, J., Letelier, R. M., Marañón, E., McGillicuddy Jr, D. J., Moisander, P. H., Moore, C. M., Mouriño-Carballido, B., Mulholland, M. R., Needoba, J. A., Orcutt, K. M., Poulton, A. J., Rahav, E., Raimbault, P., Rees, A. P., Riemann, L., Shiozaki, T., Subramaniam, A., Tyrrell, T., Turk-Kubo, K. A., Varela, M., Villareal, T. A., Webb, E. A., White, A. E., Wu, J., Zehr, J. P. (2012). Database of diazotrophs in global ocean: abundance, biomass and nitrogen fixation rates. Earth System Science Data/Copernicus GmbH. Vol. 4 (1), pp. 47-73.
    • Sañudo-Wilhelmy, S. A., Cutter, L. S., Durazo, R., Smail, E. A., Gómez-Consarnau, L., Webb, E. A., Prokopenko, M. G., Berelson, W. M., Karl, D. M. (2012). Multiple B-vitamin depletion in large areas of the coastal ocean. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences/National Acad Sciences. Vol. 109 (35), pp. 201208755-14045.
    • Smail, E. A., Webb, E. A., Franks, R. P., Bruland, K. W., Sañudo-Wilhelmy, S. A. (2012). Status of Metal Contamination in Surface Waters of the Coastal Ocean off Los Angeles, California since the Implementation of the Clean Water Act. Environ. Sci. Technol/American Chemical Society. Vol. 46 (8), pp. 4304-4311.
    • Hynes, A. M., Webb, E. A., Doney, S. C., Waterbury, J. B. (2012). Comparison of Cultured Trichodesmium (Cyanophyceae) with Species Characterized From the Field. Journal Of Phycology. Vol. 48 (1), pp. 196-210.
    • Chappell, P. D., Moffett, J. W., Hynes, A. M., Webb, E. A. (2012). Molecular evidence of iron limitation and availability in the global diazotroph Trichodesmium. The ISME Journal/Nature Publishing Group. Vol. 6 (9), pp. 1728-1739.
    • Sohm, J. A., Edwards, B. R., Wilson, B. G., Webb, E. A. (2011). Constitutive Extracellular Polysaccharide (EPS) Production by Specific Isolates of Crocosphaera watsonii. Frontiers in Aquatic Microbiology. Vol. 2
    • Singer, E., Emerson, D., Webb, E. A., Barco, R. A., Kuenen, J. G., Nelson, W. C., Chan, C. S., Comolli, L. R., Ferriera, S., Johnson, J., Heidelberg, J. F., Edwards, K. J. (2011). Mariprofundus ferrooxydans PV-1 the First Genome of a Marine Fe(II) Oxidizing Zetaproteobacterium. PLoS ONE. Vol. 6 (9), pp. e25386.
    • Van Mooy, B. A., Hmelo, L. R., Sofen, L. E., Campagna, S. R., May, A. L., Dyhrman, S. T., Heithoff, A., Webb, E. A., Momper, L., Mincer, T. (2011). Quorum sensing control of phosphorus acquisition in Trichodesmium consortia. The ISME Journal. Vol. 6 (2), pp. 422-429.
    • Sohm, J. A., Hilton, J. A., Noble, A. E., Zehr, J. P., Saito, M. A., Webb, E. A. (2011). Nitrogen fixation in the South Atlantic Gyre and the Benguela Upwelling System. Geophysical Research Letters. Vol. 38, pp. -.
    • Sohm, J. A., Webb, E. A., Capone, D. G. (2011). Emerging patterns of marine nitrogen fixation. Nature Reviews Microbiology. Vol. 9 (7), pp. 499-508.
    • Hynes, A. M., Webb, E. A., Doney, S. C., Waterbury, J. B. (2011). Comparison of cultured Trichodesmium (Cyanophyceae) with species characterized from the field. in press at J. Phyc..
    • Singer, E., Webb, E. A., Nelson, W. C., Heidelberg, J. F., Ivanova, N., Pati, A., Edwards, K. J. (2011). Genomic Potential of Marinobacter aquaeolei, a Biogeochemical “Opportunitroph”. Applied And Environmental Microbiology. Vol. 77 (8), pp. 2763-2771.
    • Bonnet, S., Webb, E. A., Panzeca, C., Karl., D., Capone, D., Sanudo-Wilhelmy, S. A. (2010). Vitamin B12 excretion by cultures of the marine cyanobacteria Crocosphaera and Synechococcus. Limnol Oceanogr. Vol. 55 (5), pp. 1959–1964.
    • Chappell, P. D., Webb, E. A. (2010). A Molecular Assessment of the Iron Stress Response in the Two Phylogenetic Clades of Trichodesmium. Environ Microbiol. Vol. 12 (1), pp. 13-27.
    • Orchard, E. D., Webb, E. A., Dyhrman, S. T. (2009). Molecular analysis of the phosphorus starvation response in Trichodesmium spp. Environ Microbiol. Vol. 11 (9), pp. 2400–2411.
    • Hynes, A. M., Chappell, P. D., Dyhrman, S. T., Doney, S. C., Webb, E. A. (2009). Cross-basin comparison of phosphorus stress and nitrogen fixation in Trichodesmium. Limnol Oceanogr. Vol. 54 (5), pp. 1438–1448..
    • Homann, V., Edwards, K., Webb, E. A., Butler, A. (2009). Siderophores of Marinobacter aquaeolei: petrobactin and its sulfonated derivatives. Biometals. Vol. 22 (4), pp. 565-571.
    • Van Mooy, B. A., Fredricks, H. F., Pedler, B. E., Dyhrman, S. T., Karl, D. M., Lomas, M. W., Mincer, T., Moore, L. R., Moutin, T., Rappe, M. S., Webb, E. A. (2009). Phytoplankton in the ocean use non-phosphorus lipids in response to phosphorus scarcity. Nature. Vol. 458 (7234), pp. 69-72.
    • Webb, E. A., Ehrenreich, I. M., Brown, S., Valois, F. W., Waterbury, J. B. (2009). Phenotypic and Genotypic Characterization of Multiple Strains of the Diazotrophic Cyanobacterium, Crocosphaera watsonii, isolated from the Open Ocean. Environ Microbiol. Vol. 11, pp. 338-348.
    • Rivers, A. R., Jakuba, R. W., Webb, E. A. (2009). Iron stress genes in marine Synechococcus and the development of a flow cytometric iron stress assay. Environ Microbiol. Vol. 11, pp. 382 – 396.
    • Rose, A. L., Webb, E. A., Waite, T. D., Moffett, J. W. (2008). Measurement and Implications of Steady-State Superoxide Concentrations in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean. Environ Sci Technol. Vol. 42 (7), pp. 2387–2393.
    • Webb, E. A., Rachel, J., Moffett, J. W., Dyhrman, S. T. (2007). Molecular Assessment of Phosphorus and Iron Physiology in Trichodesmium Populations from the Western Central and Western South Atlantic. Limnology and Oceanography/ASLO. Vol. 52(5), pp. 2221–2232.
    • Dyhrman, S. T., Chappell, P. D., Haley, S. T., Orchard, E. D., Waterbury, J. B., Webb, E. A. (2006). Phosphonate utilization by the globally important marine diazotroph Trichodesmium. Nature. Vol. 439, pp. 68-71.
    • Ehrenreich, I. M., Waterbury, J. B., Webb, E. A. (2005). The Distribution and Diversity of Natural Product Genes in Marine and Freshwater Cyanobacterial Cultures and Genomes. Applied and Environmental Microbiology/ASM. Vol. 71, pp. 7401-7413.
    • Orchard, E. D., Webb, E. A., Dyhrman, S. T. (2003). Characterization of Phosphorus-Regulated Genes in Trichodesmium spp. Biological Bulletin/Marine Biological Laboratory. Vol. 205, pp. 230–231.
    • Webb, E. A., Waterbury, J. B. (2001). Iron Stress in Open Ocean Cyanobacteria (Synechococcus, Trichodesmium, and Crocosphaera): Identification of the IdiA protein. Applied and Environmental Microbiology/ASM. Vol. 67, pp. 5444-5452.
  • Professional Memberships

    • International Society for Microbial Ecology, 2006 – 2017
    • American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, 2000 – 2016

    Reviewer for Publications

    • Environmental Microbiology Reports, Editorial Board, 2015 – 2016
    • ISME journal, Editorial Board, 2013 – 2016
    • Frontiers in Aquatic Microbiology, Editorial Board, 2009-2010
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