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Seminar Series – Dr. Bradley Tolar: Monitoring Seasonal Dynamics of Thaumarchaeota Ecotypes in Coastal Marine Systems
January 27, 2023 @ 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Dr. Bradley Tolar, University of North Carolina Wilmington
Monitoring Seasonal Dynamics of Thaumachaeota Ecotypes in Coastal Marine Systems
Thaumarchaeota are among the most abundant organisms on the planet and play a key role in the nitrogen cycle, oxidizing ammonia to nitrite as the first step in nitrification. Although typically viewed as a single entity, subgroups within Thaumarchaeota have predictable abundance patterns based on environment (e.g., depth, salinity, pH), and thus have been termed ‘ecotypes’. Distinct ecotypes are found in freshwater, marine, soil, and hot spring environments. My research focuses on how Thaumarchaeota diversity, abundance, and activity are affected by environmental factors using a combination of molecular biology and geochemical techniques. During my graduate work, I investigated a seasonal ‘bloom’ of a single Thaumarchaeota ecotype each summer in coastal Georgia, where we observed an increase in its abundance 10-1000X. Such seasonality may be uncommon in Archaea, but has been observed in other coastal Thaumarchaeota ecotypes during the winter in higher latitudes. Continuing research in my laboratory seeks to further characterize the causes and impacts such blooms have on coastal ecosystems in North Carolina and the Southern Ocean, paired with laboratory culture experiments.