UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ
This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).
There is increasing evidence that iron is important in regulating bulk phytoplankton production in large regions of the world oceans and also influences the speciation of phytoplankton. However, not all iron in the ocean is biologically 'available', making it difficult to obtain a quantitative understanding of these linkages. Currently available methods that rely on adding one or another chemical species of iron to natural seawater cultures are not ideal because they cannot control for thermo- or photochemical cycling of iron species within the cultures. Thus, the need exists for new analytical methods to show which forms of iron are preferentially utilized by different marine bacteria and phytoplankton species. A scientist from the University of California, Santa Cruz in collaboration with a researcher from Massachusetts Institute of Technology plan to determine whether a new microfluidics technique successfully used to study dissolved organic matter utilization in marine bacteria and phytoplankton can be adapted to determine the effect of chemical speciation on iron acquisition by these species. Specifically, the proponents plan to demonstrate that the microfluidics chemotaxis experiments can be carried out under trace metal clean conditions and show that marine bacteria and phytoplankton display chemotaxis towards a recognizable source of iron. As regards broader impacts, this research would provide the ocean sciences community with a new technique to document which forms of iron are preferentially utilized by different marine bacteria and phytoplankton species. One postdoc from Massachusetts Institute of Technology would be supported and trained as part of this EAGER award.