RAPID: Meta-genomic and Transcriptomic Investigation of Complex Organic Matter Degradation in Antarctic Benthic Sediments
Organic Matter Degradation in Antarctic Benthic Sediments
This proposal will provide genetic and enzymatic insight into how microbial communities in benthic sediments on the coastal shelf of Antarctica degrade complex organic matter. The current understanding of how benthic microbial communities respond and also degrade complex organic matter in Antarctica is fragmented. Recent work suggests benthic microbial communities are shaped by organic matter availability (encompassing both quantity and quality), however, these studies were observational and did not directly examine community function (e.g. enzyme activity and/or gene expression). Preliminary metagenomic data, collected from western Antarctica marine sediments, document gene potential for organic matter degradation throughout the entire sample set (spanning the Amundsen Sea, Bellingshausen Sea, and Ross Sea), but functional data was not collected. To date, studies have examined either enzyme activity or metagenomic potential but few have been able to directly connect the two. To address these gaps in knowledge, this proposal will utilize powerful tools such as metagenomics and metatranscriptomics, coupled with microcosm experiments, enzyme assays, and geochemical data. This hypothesis driven proposal will examine microbial communities from the continental shelf of Antarctica from two different regions (Bransfield Strait and Weddell Sea) to document the communities’ enzymatic activity and genes used to degrade complex organic matter. These data will expand our current knowledge of genetic potential towards a more direct understanding of enzyme function as it relates to degradation of complex organic matter in marine sediments from Antarctica.
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