Chemical Ecology of planktonic species interactions.
Most planktonic species interactions are conveyed by chemical compounds in small ecological niches, e.g. as a result of direct species encounters and associations. We poorly understand the chemical key compounds that orchestrate these interactions, specifically among organisms of the microbial loop.
The qualitative and quantitative analysis of chemical cues or toxins is a powerful strategy to trace species interactions and correlate them with chemical compounds and vice versa.
We focus on interactions among microalgae and bacteria. We use cellular targets and live imaging techniques [link: multiphoton laser microscope] to visualize species interactions and resulting processes. We isolate and quantify ecological molecules in field and laboratory samples and characterize them with high-end mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy [NMR]. We further employ chemometrics and environmental metabolomics to find causal relationships between chemical sample composition and environmental determinants.
The overall aim is to interpret and assess species interaction, performance and orchestration by ecological molecules under current and future ocean conditions.