Bio Chris Rinke

Christian Rinke

Born and raised in scenic  Graz, Austria  I moved  to Vienna for my masters in Zoology/Marine Biology. During this time Prof. Monika Bright, University of Vienna, introduced me to symbiosis research and to Zoothamnium niveum. This ciliate is large enough to been seen with the naked eye, has the appearance of a Christmas tree, moves faster than the blink of an eye and is covered by a brilliant white coat. This coat of symbiotic bacteria spurred my interest in microbes and resulted in a dissertation in Monika's lab and in a collaboration with Prof. Michael Wagner, University of Vienna. Together we were able to identify the symbiont and detect genes for sulfur metabolism and autotrophy. Another collaboration with Ray Lee, WSU enabled me for the first time to cultivate a sulfur oxidizing symbiosis over several generations and to study the effects of sulfide on growth and behavior of this symbiosis.

Zoothamnium niveum on mangrove peat.
Zoothamnium niveum
on mangrove peat. Photo credit Chris Rinke.

I spend my first 2 1/2 postdoc  years in Prof. Lee\'s lab where I had the exciting opportunity to see the hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean with my own eyes when diving in the submersible Alvin. We explored the activities and thermal stability of paralvinellid vent worms, and developed a deep sea macro camera temperature logger which performs down to 2200m depth.

Chris Rinke on board the submersible Alvin in 2000m depth.

My second postdoc brought me to Tanja Woykes lab at the Joint Genome Institute (JGI) in California and she introduced me to the exciting new field of single cell genomics. This technique omits the usual cultivation step and allows for microbial genomes to be sequenced directly from environmental samples, one cell at a time. We first improved the whole genome amplification protocol for single cells to overcome contamination issues, and then I led the Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea - Microbial Dark Matter (GEBA-MDM) project. The duration of the project was as long as its name and after three years and a massive effort of single cell amplification, screening, and sequencing we were able to explore the phylogeny and coding potential of 201 single cells from 29 mostly uncharted branches of the tree of life.

Single Cell Genomics
Multiple Displacement Amplification (MDA) of single cells and controls.

My next project is of a completely different nature. We will set out with a 34 foot sailboat in fall 2013, heading south and then attempting to cross the Pacific Ocean under our own keel.

rinke at
crinke at