Molecular Sea Ice Ecology
Polar oceans are seasonally covered by sea ice with an average size of the continent of North America. Despite harsh conditions therein, sea ice and its lower surface can carry a dense and diverse microbial community, typically dominated by Diatoms. Sea ice can provide important primary production to polar oceans via these communities, although they are often very patchy. In times of declining sea ice coverage it is a major challenge to determine current sea ice biodiversity, functions provided by its biota, and the future of sea ice communities in a warming ocean.
We address these questions through analyses of total communities, their molecular biodiversity and in situ gene expression, physiological and molecular functions of selected dominant species in pure culture and genomic properties of key species such as Melosira arctica or Fragilariopsis cylindrus. Through experimental evolution and in situ transcriptomics we attempt to estimate the limits of fast adaptive potential in such key species.