Awardee: William D. Orsi (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Current Placement: Associate Professor, Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) Munich
Degree: Ph.D. Biology, Northeastern University (2011)
Advisors: Virginia P. Edgcomb (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), Jennifer F. Biddle (University of Delaware)
Amount: $120,000.00
Award Dates: May 1, 2011 — April 30, 2013

Abstract

Practically nothing is known about microbial eukaryotes (mEuks) in the marine subsurface. mEuks are pivotal members of microbial communities because they regenerate nutrients and modify or remineralize organic matter through grazing on prokaryotic and other eukaryotic prey. Thus, mEuks help determine metabolic potentials of microbial communities and influence elemental cycling. Only one study has addressed mEuk diversity in the marine subsurface (Edgcomb et al. 2010), which suggested Fungi dominate the eukaryotic subsurface community and are active in sediments 35 mbsf at the Peru Margin. Thus, some mEuks may be specifically adapted to the deep subsurface and may play significant roles in the utilization and regeneration of organic matter and nutrients in deep-sea sediments. One objective of this study will be to further investigate whether Fungi are consistently the dominant group of mEuks in the marine subsurface by examining mEuk diversity in a broad range of subsurface samples from ODP expeditions spanning the world’s oceans. Deep sequencing of SSU rRNA in these samples will provide a proxy for mEuk diversity and activity in the marine subsurface. A second objective will be to ‘ground truth’ an mRNA isolation protocol for mEuks in marine subsurface sediments. Once established, this protocol will enable the third objective, which is the creation of a eukaryotic metatranscriptome from ODP site 1229. This metatranscriptome will provide insights into the functional role of mEuks in the marine subsurface and perhaps new insights into microbial evolution.

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