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NCGAS enables improved understanding of ocean bacteria

Researchers are now better able to understand how a marine bacteria model system responds to elevated CO2 levels.

Researchers Gwenn Hennon, Sheean Haley, J. Jeffrey Morris, Erik Zinser, and Sonya Dyhrman at Columbia University are investigating how microbial interactions modulate the effect of changing oceanic conditions on primary production (how plants make their own food) using IU’s National Center for Genome Analysis Support (NCGAS) resources. Marine bacterial colonies respond to their surroundings, and things like the dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) and neighboring bacteria can have a large effect on a colony’s success. Friendly neighbors can mean survival under conditions of double the normal amount of CO2. By conducting analyses of gene expression on bacterial colonies, the researchers were better able to understand how a marine bacteria model system responds to elevated CO2 levels.

These analyses allows for a deeper understanding of the effect of increasing CO2 levels on oceanic life, as well as the complex relationships between species. The organisms studied here are at the base of the food chain and serve a vital role in ocean environments. These findings have significant implications for study of the impact of climate change.

Caption:  Researchers at Columbia University preparing sample for analysis using NCGAS.