Biodiversity and transcriptional activity of sea ice eukaryotes
Dr. Klaus Valentin
Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
Sektion Polare Biologische Ozeanographie
The aim of this project is to determine the eukaryotic biodiversity and transcriptional activity in Antarctic sea ice samples and link both using phylogenetics. Sea ice is a apparently hostile habitat with regard to its abiotic constraints. Despite this fact, it is heavily populated by micro-organisms, thus constituting an ecosystem of global significance. Knowledge on the diversity of organisms inhabiting sea ice is presently mainly restricted to microscopic investigations. Their gene expression activity is virtually unknown. Here we propose to describe the molecular biodiversity of selected sea ice communities by applying environmental 18s rDNA libraries, in order to unravel the identity of unknown, or unculturable species, „hidden biodiversity". We also aim to determine the transcriptional input of eukaryotic sea ice organisms to ecosystem functioning by randomly sequencing environmental cDNA libraries ("ESTs"). Using recently developed phylogenetic tools we will determine function and phylogenetic affiliation of ESTs and so link sea ice biodiversity with transcriptional activity of major groups. Finally we intend to correlate biodiversity and transcriptional activity with in situ physical and biochemical parameters measured during sampling. Since psychrophilic micro-organisms possess unique physiological adaptations to their extreme habitat, they are potentially interesting objects for applied science.
term from 2006 to 2011