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Heading south to Antarctica in search of sulphur

3 February 2017

Jean-Baptiste Raina, Katherina Petrou, Daniel Nielsen, Eva Fernandez

Left to right: Jean-Baptiste Raina, Katherina Petrou, Daniel Nielsen, Eva Fernandez

Four UTS scientists commence their journey to Antarctica this week working on a project supported by the Australian Antarctic Science Grant Program. The project is aimed at examining the role of sulphur compounds in Antarctic phytoplankton-bacteria relationships. Often referred to as the distinctive “smell of the sea” these compounds, such as DMSP (dimethylsulphoniopropionate), drive many marine food-web interactions and link ocean chemistry to global climate through the release of aerosols that influence cloud formation.

The team comprising Drs Katherina PetrouJean-Baptiste RainaDaniel Nielsen and PhD student Eva Fernandez will explore how changes in environmental conditions, such as those expected from global warming, influence fundamental relationships responsible for ocean productivity.

“The Antarctic marine ecosystem is an important 'hot spot' of productivity, supporting global marine biodiversity through photosynthesis performed by phytoplankton. These microscopic marine plants support fisheries yields and help drive the cycling of chemicals that control our climate. Any shift in the way marine microbes interact will have a profound effect on the health of the planet,” says Chief Investigator, Dr Katherina Petrou, who leads the Marine Microphytology Lab in the UTS School of Life Sciences.

Read the full story on the Climate Change Cluster website.