The researchers at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory hope to use the nutrient incubation experiments to inform interpretation of environmental sampling. This will help to tease apart patterns of niche partitioning across groups.
Phytoplankton play a key role in the ocean’s ability to absorb atmospheric gases that are associated with global climate change. The growth of phytoplankton, and therefore their ability to pull greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere, is usually restricted by their ability to access nitrogen and phosphorus. Understanding how these living populations partition these growth-limiting compounds will allow scientists to build more accurate models of the ocean’s abilities to absorb atmospheric carbon.
Staff at the National Center for Genome Analysis Support provided bioinformatic and computational resources to assist faculty and students from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory to examine the bottom-up controls on phytoplankton growth. They accomplished this by investigating the nutrient physiology of phytoplankton in a species-specific way. The experimental design combined environmental sampling with nutrient-amended incubations to drive the population towards different states of nutrient starvation/repletion.
Figure 1. Harriet Alexander (left) and an unidentified helper setting up her incubation experiment on a three week research cruise on the R/V Kilo Moana in the North Pacific Ocean.
Project Leads: Sonya Dyhrman
National Center for Genome Analysis Support (NCGAS),UITS Research Technologies, research made possible by Mason and Data Capacitor 2