David Caron, Ph.D.
University of Southern California
New Approaches and Insights
Into Phytoplankton and Protozoan Ecology
Wednesday – November 28, 2007
Pacific Forum – 3:00 p.m.
Modern genetic approaches have contributed a great deal to our understanding of the diversity and phylogenetic composition of bacterial and archeal assemblages in marine ecosystems during the past 15 years. Similar breakthroughs are now taking place for microbial eukaryotes (phytoplankton and protozoa; aka protists). The use of DNA sequence in formation has begun to augment and gradually replace traditional morphology-based taxonomies for identifying and enumerating protists in natural ecosystems. As a consequence, molecular methods have begun to provide powerful new tools for characterizing the diversity of protistan assemblages and for studying the autecology of species of special interest. These studies have revealed previously undescribed lineages of protists, changed our perception of ecologically important species, and demonstrated an exceptionally high diversity of microbial eukaryotes in most natural communities. In turn, these discoveries have revised our understanding of protistan biogeography, community assembly, and reassembly in the face of environmental change. Aspects of these discoveries will be presented and discussed.