Karna Gowda

Karna Gowda

Postdoctoral Scholar

The University of Chicago

Microbial communities perform feats of metabolic chemistry that sustain life from microscopic to global scales. Though it is clear that an individual organism’s metabolic capabilities control the conditions under which it can survive and thrive, we know little about how constraints imposed by physical and chemical limits on metabolism impact emergent community structure and behavior.

My work is about discovering the metabolic constraints underlying the structure and activity of microbial communities. To do this, I am developing a new approach that leverages natural variation across microbial communities to discover the metabolic constraints underlying their structure and activity, which will enable me to develop empirically-driven theories about how constraints shape communities.

I am currently Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Ecology & Evolution and Center for Physics of Evolving Systems. I am jointly mentored by Seppe Kuehn and Madhav Mani. I was a James S. McDonnell Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow from 2017-2020. Prior to that, I completed a PhD in Applied Mathematics with Mary Silber, where I worked on pattern formation and geospatial data analysis relating to dryland ecology.



Genomic structure predicts metabolite dynamics in microbial communities

What principles govern the mapping from the genomic structure to the metabolic activity of microbial communities?

How constraints shape division of metabolic labor

How do environmentally-imposed constraints shape division of metabolic labor in bacterial denitrification?

Recent Publications

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Genomic structure predicts metabolite dynamics in microbial communities

An ensemble approach to the structure-function problem in microbial communities

Evolution of generalists by phenotypic plasticity

A topographic mechanism for arcing of dryland vegetation bands