Dr. Tracy Mincer

Associate Scientist
Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry

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Contact Information:
Work: 508-289-3640
Building: Watson 109

Mailing Address:
266 Woods Hole Road, MS #51
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Woods Hole, MA 02543

Research Interests

Microbes are the most abundant and metabolically diverse form of cellular life on Earth and pivotal to understanding the Earth system. I am fascinated by how living organisms interact with one another, self-assemble into stable communities, and drive geochemical stoichiometry. Each of the three major research efforts in my laboratory, discussed below, are centered around characterizing microbial crosstalk and transactions within microbiomes with an eye toward ecosystem-level understanding and potential for human betterment: 1) Microbial Interactions, 2) Volatile Hydrocarbon Production, and 3) Natural Products Discovery and Microbial Chemical Ecology. Through the use of robust methods in molecular biology and adaptation of new tools in analytical chemistry, my research group has made research efforts ranging from the field of environmental microbiology to applications in biomedicine

Each of the major research areas that I have established required significant investment in tool-building. Together, these three lines of inquiry form a synergy with their peak productivity just beginning to be realized. I plan to continue to explore the research space within specific microbial systems to address the following broad areas: 1) Describe the ecological relevance and human health implications of Plastic Marine Debris; 2) Understand the contribution of phytoplankton-derived VOC’s to the carbon cycle and atmospheric chemistry, and the roles these play in phytoplankton environmental interactions; 3) Explore the chemical cues that drive microbial interactions, on their own terms and apply this tool-set and knowledge toward the discovery of chemotherapeutics and describing geochemical phenomena.


Ph.D.: Oceanography. 2004. Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego.

B. S.: Chemistry/Biochemistry. 1995. University of California, San Diego

Recent Publications

Mincer, T. J.*, Zettler, E. R. and Amaral-Zettler, L. A. “Biofilms on Plastic Debris and Their Influence on Marine Nutrient Cycling, Productivity, and Hazardous Chemical Mobility” Chapter in the Handbook of Environmental Chemistry. Volume: Hazardous Chemicals Associated with Plastics in the Environment. Editors: Hideshige Takada and Hrissi K. Karapanagioti. H. Takada, H.K. Karapanagioti (eds.), DOI 10.1007/698_2016_12, Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Zhao, S.+, Danley, M., Ward, J. E., Li, D., Mincer, T. J.* “An approach for extraction, characterization and quantitation of microplastic in natural marine snow using Raman microscopy” Early Online Publication: Analytical Methods, September, 2016. DOI: 10.1039/C6AY02302A.

Gamal, A. E., Agarwal, V., Diethelm, S., Rahman, I., Schorn, M. A., Sneed, J. M., Louie, G. V., Whalen, K. E.+, Mincer, T. J., Noel, J. P., Paul, V. J., Moore, B. S. “Biosynthesis of coral settlement cue tetrabromopyrrole in marine bacteria by a uniquely adapted brominase-thioesterase enzyme pair.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, April 2016, vol. 113 no. 14, 3797–3802, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1519695113

Harvey, E. L., Deering, R. W., Rowley, D. C., Johnson, M. D., Mincer, T. J., Whalen, K. E.+ “A bacterial quorum-sensing precursor induces mortality in the marine coccolithophore, Emiliania huxleyi” Frontiers in Microbiology, February 2016. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2016.00059

Mincer, T. J.* and Aicher, A. C.+ “Methanol Production by a Broad Phylogenetic Array of Marine Phytoplankton” PLoS ONE (2016) 11(3):e0150820. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0150820

Poulson-Ellestad, K. L.+, Harvey, E. L., Johnson, M. D., Mincer, T. J.* “Exometabolomic profiling of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi in response to grazing by the dinoflagellate Oxyrrhis marina” Frontiers in Marine Science, January 2016. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2016.00001