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Research Seminar: Weida Gong
February 8, 2016 @ 12:20 pm - 1:20 pm
“Molecular insights into spatiotemporal variations and bloom dynamics in phytoplankton in the Neuse River Estuary” In the Neuse River Estuary, an increase in frequency and intensity of algal blooms has been attributed to eutrophication. Regulations by government agencies to reduce eutrophication as well as predictive ecosystem models for algal growth have made some progress towards achieving a healthier ecosystem in the NRE. However, a general lack of knowledge of bloom dynamics as well as limited understanding of which environmental factors are most important in regulating algal growth impede our ability to establish better strategies to effectively manage this ecosystem. In my research, I am using metatranscriptomics (sequencing of RNA from the environment) to provide insights into characterization of phytoplankton dynamics by examining how phytoplankton adjust their gene expression levels both seasonally and spatially to respond to changes in environmental factors. Future directions for my research include a comparison of taxonomic identification methods (light microscopy, photosynthetic pigments analysis, and DNA and RNA sequencing), molecular characterization of bloom development stages (from bloom formation to senescence) and the identification of molecular indicator genes for harmful algal blooms.