Project Title: Strategies of resource allocation by phytoplankton under dynamic ocean environments
Supervisors: David Suggett, Kimberley Halsey (Oregon State University) and Peter Ralph
Phytoplankton are the base of the aquatic food web and contribute nearly half global primary production. They are also key players in biogeochemical cycling in the ocean, carbon sequestration from the atmosphere, cloud formation and oil production. Still there is much about phytoplankton ecophysiology that we do not understand and in particular how they remain photosynthetically efficient and competitive in highly dynamic environments
The main constituents for phytoplankton growth are light and nutrients. There are many other factors contributing to phytoplankton growth and fitness in the ocean that are difficult to replicate in the laboratory. With the development of environmental photobioreactors (ePBRs) more parameters, such as pH, temperature, light and oxygen, are able to be controlled and monitored continuously to get a more comprehensive look at how phytoplankton physiology changes over a day under such dynamic conditions as experienced in nature.
This research will provide insight on how phytoplankton change their photophysiology and metabolome to adjust to the incredibly dynamic environment representative of the ocean. Continuous measurements of fluorometry, oxygen, and pH will indicate points of interest over a sinusoidal light curve for further measurements into metabolic adjustments within the cell. The data from this research will also allow predictions of algal responses to future ocean conditions.
UTS International Research Scholarship
UTS President’s Scholarship
Fisher, N.L and Halsey, K.K. (2016) Mechanisms that increase the growth efficiency of diatoms in low light. Photosynthesis Research. 129:1