Collaborative Research: Microbial Community Assembly in Coastal Waters of the Western Antarctic Peninsula
The Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) has experienced unprecedented warming and shifts in sea ice cover over the past fifty years. How these changes impact marine microbial communities, and subsequently how these shifts in the biota may affect the carbon cycle in surface waters is unknown. This work will examine how these ecosystem-level changes affect microbial community structure and function. This research will use modern metagenomic and transcriptomic approaches to test the hypothesis that the introduction of organic matter from spring phytoplankton blooms drives turnover in microbial communities. This research will characterize patterns in bacterial and archaeal succession during the transition from the austral winter at two long-term monitoring sites: Palmer Station in the north and Rothera Station in the south. This project will also include microcosm incubations to directly assess the effects of additions of organic carbon and melted sea ice on microbial community structure and function. The results of this work will provide a broader understanding of the roles of both rare and abundant microorganisms in carbon cycling within the WAP region, and how these communities may shift in structure and function in response to climate change. Results will be widely disseminated through publications as well as through presentations at national and international meetings. The research will provide training opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate students and will enhance international collaborations with the British Antarctic Survey.
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