Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Towards a better understanding of marine bacterioplankton dynamics 

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Christina Preston, Ph.D.

Wednesday, February 9, 2005
Pacific Forum 3:00 p.m.

Marine picoplankton mediate many oceanic biogeochemical processes, but much of their biology and ecology remains unknown. The application of molecular phylogenetic techniques and, more recently, advances in genomic methods have broadened our understanding of microbial diversity and distribution, and aided in revealing the genomic content and metabolic capabilities of marine microbes. For example, we discovered a free-living benthic microbe containing a RuBisCO gene, raising the possibility of carbon fixation in the deep sea. Molecular probes designed from genetic data can also be used to interrogate field samples collected using remotely operated instruments (e.g. Environmental Sample processor). Real time data on temporal scales not obtainable with routine bacterioplankton surveys should provide insight into the activity and abundance of specific marine microorganisms in context with chemical, physical, and other biological measurements, and eventually could elucidate the distribution and expression of genes involved in particular nutrient cycles.

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