A preliminary assessment of the influence of ice cove on microbial carbon and energy acquisition during the Antarctic Winter-spring Seasonal Transition

Lead PI: Jeff Bowman

Unit Affiliation: Biology and Paleo Environment, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

August 2016 - July 2018
Antarctica ; West Antarctic Peninsula
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: This EAGER project will compare gene expression patterns in the planktonic communities under ice covers that form in coastal embayment's in the Antarctic Peninsula. Previous efforts taking advantage of unique ice conditions in November and December of 2015 allowed researchers to conduct an experiment to examine the role of sea ice cover on microbial carbon and energy transfer during the winter-spring transition. The EAGER effort will enable the researchers to conduct the "omics" analyses of the phytoplankton to determine predominant means by which energy is acquired and used in these settings. This EAGER effort will apply new expertise to fill an existing gap in ecological observations along the West Antarctic Peninsula. The principle product of the proposed work will be a novel dataset to be analyzed and by an early career researcher from an underserved community (veteran).

The critical baseline data contained in this dataset enable a comparison of eukaryotic and prokaryotic gene expression patterns to establish the relative importance of chemoautotrophy, heterotrophy, mixotrophy, and phototrophy during the experiments. this information and data will be made immediately available to the broader scientific community, and will enable the development of further hypotheses on ecosystem change as sea ice cover changes in the region. Very little gene expression data is currently available for the Antarctic marine environment, and no gene expression data is available during the ecologically critical winter to spring transition. Moreover, ice cover in bays is common along the West Antarctic Peninsula yet the opportunity to study cryptophyte phytoplankton physiology beneath such ice conditions in coastal embayments is rare.