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Midwater research

Population and taxonomic analysis of midwater organisms
Lead Scientist/Project Manager: George Matsumoto

Expanding our knowledge of the deep-sea environment first requires identification of organisms. Molecular analysis is a valuable tool for validating taxonomic identifications based on morphological descriptions and revealing details on taxonomic and ecological relationships. This project will apply molecular techniques to a taxonomic analysis of selected marine organisms, starting with members of the Phylum Ctenophora (comb jellies) and clams found at cold seeps. These methods are especially advantageous with ctenophores, which as a group exhibit few morphological characteristics and have left no significant fossil record. This research will provide insight into the inter- and intraphyletic relationships within and between phyla. This project will also provide a better understanding of the genetic structure of cold-seep communities and, possibly, the natural history and gene flow of the clam species found within these communities.