Bioluminescence and molecular biology of zooplankton
Project Manager/Lead Scientist: Steve Haddock
The midwater environment is home to some of the most abundant organisms
on earth. However, in many cases, the identities and relationships of
these creatures are unknown. With the midwater lab team and George
Matsumoto, we have made progress in the past few years using genetic
information to answer questions which are not readily addressed by
We are presently conducting molecular phylogenetic
studies involving ctenophores, siphonophores, narcomedusae, radiolarians,
and pelagic molluscs.
Surprising and taxonomically important (that is, at family level) discoveries
have already been made. We will continue this work toward
understanding the inhabitants of the deep-sea. Without accurate
knowledge of their identities and relationships, we cannot begin to
understand their ecology and contributions to deep-ocean processes.
Most midwater organisms are bioluminescent, and we are also
investigating the molecular and chemical basis of bioluminescent and
fluorescent proteins. We will also begin
screening cDNA libraries of more taxonomically distant species and
investigate the bioluminescence of larvaceans—an abundant but
little-studied group of zooplankton.