Biochemical and molecular mechanisms of microbe-algae interactions and conditions specifically influencing interaction type

The bacterium Vibrio cholerae interacting with the marine diatom Cylindrotheca fusiformis.  (AZ Worden)

The bacterium Vibrio cholerae interacting with the marine diatom Cylindrotheca fusiformis.
(AZ Worden)

Although we know that bacteria attach to algae (even to picophytoplankton), the relationship between these organisms has not yet been characterized despite its potential influence on population dynamics and biogeochemical cycles. The relationship could be mutualistic, or range from mutualistic to parasitic or pathogenic as environmental conditions or colonizing bacterial populations change.

Mechanisms of interactions amongst microorganisms are key to modeling system dynamics accurately. Our goal is to conduct a series of innovative field studies with a suite of new, sensitive tools to probe the strength and direction of these linkages/interactions and quantify carbon flow to other trophic compartments. Our work will allow development of mechanistically based ecosystem models for prediction of primary production, carbon cycling and marine food web dynamics. This is the least developed research area in the lab and an area we expect to make a ‘push’ in over the next two years.

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