Diatoms are important because:
- Their cumulative global contribution to primary production is similar to that of the rain forests
- They are important players in the oceanic cycles of Carbon, Nitrogen, and Silicon
- The sinking of diatom silica, and their associated organic matter, is a major component of the "Biological Pump"
- The production and cycling of diatom silica plays a fundamental role in regulating the exchange of CO2 between the ocean and atmosphere
Marine cyanobacteria and Silicon?
Recently, I have also worked on examining the role of picocyanobacteria in the global Silicon cycle, specifically those from the genus Synechococcus. Photosynthetic cyanobacteria, primarily from the genre Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus, are the most abundant photosynthetic organisms on earth and generally the most abundant members of the phytoplankton community. Recently, our Nature Geoscience paper demonstrates that laboratory cultures and field cells (from eastern equatorial Pacific and Sargasso Sea) of Synechococcus accumulate elemental Silicon and we suggest that "picocyanobacteria may exert a previously unrecognized influence on the oceanic silicon cycle, especially in nutrient-poor waters." A collaboration of scientists at Stony Brook University, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, UCSB and DISL, are currently funded by the National Science Foundation to examine the variability in Silicon quotas for cultured clones and field cells of Synechococcus and quantify their potential contribution to the rate which silica is produced in the open ocean (work with the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study program).
Current Funded Research Projects:
|Biological Oceanography||(Graduate, University of South Alabama)|
|Physiology and Ecology of Marine Microalgae||(Graduate, University of South Alabama)|
|Introduction to Oceanography||(Undergraduate/Graduate, Dauphin Island Sea Lab)|
Current Lab Personnel:
|Sydney Acton||(Lab Manager/Technician)|
|Liesl Cole||(M.S. student, University of South Alabama)|
|Israel Marquez||(M.S./Ph.D. student, University of South Alabama)|
|Heather McNair||(Ph.D. student, University of California Santa Barbara)|
|Rebecca Pickering-Turner||(Ph.D. student, University of South Alabama)|