Arctic aquatic microbiology: seeking answers to pressing questions from an ocean in rapid change

Main area:Microbiology
Target group:Biology
Educational level:Masters
Project description:

Did you know that the Arctic is warming more than twice the rate of the global average? Would you find it fascinating to contribute to microbiology research in our northernmost ocean?

 The Arctic Ocean is currently undergoing above global average speed of climate change with many consequences across the ecosystem, also affecting lower latitudes. Even though microbes are key players in the food web and for biogeochemical cycling, it is surprising how little we know about them in the Arctic Ocean. What regulates their diversity and activity, and how does that play out in response to changing ocean conditions? What role do they play in the cycling of nitrogen, carbon and other elements? The Arctic is predicted to become more nutrient limited in the near future which makes the role of microbes even more interesting. Diazotrophs for example, which are prokaryotes with the ability of fixing inert nitrogen gas into bioavailable nitrogen, were traditionally not thought to exist in the Arctic Ocean. But only during the last years, several studies have detected a wide range of diazotrophs, as well as measured active nitrogen fixation up there – and a new picture could be emerging not only in the microbial sphere, but also with importance for nutrient availability of phytoplankton and ultimately carbon sequestration. But how active is nitrogen fixation actually in the Arctic with its extreme seasonality? Where and under what conditions do the diazotrophs have competitive advantages and how could it affect primary production? If joining this project, you could have the opportunity of participating in all steps of the research; from project ideas to Arctic field work and experiments, cutting-edge molecular tools and microbiological techniques, data analysis and writing of a scientific publication.

The project is connected to the PhD project of Lisa von Friesen who works with nitrogen fixation in the Arctic Ocean. The project is based at the Marine Biological Section in Helsingør where you as a master student will get to join an active research group and participate in scientific group meetings as well as social gatherings. Research questions and opportunities are many, so if this sounds intriguing - send off an email and swing by for a coffee and let’s discuss ideas!

Methods used:PCR, Illumina amplicon sequencing; measurements of microbial biomass and productivity
Keywords:Arctic, microbiology, bacterial composition, nitrogen fixation, marine biology
Supervisor(s):  Lasse Riemann and Lisa von Friesen