PhD title: Functional biology and ecology of aquatic fungi
The roles of fungi in aquatic systems, both freshwater and marine have long been overlooked in comparison to their roles in terrestrial environments. There is a growing awareness of their potential ecological and biogeochemical roles within freshwater and pelagic oceans. Fungal sequences represent a large proportion of eukaryotic sequences in aquatic systems, yet a lack of true estimates on aquatic fungal diversity and biomass supports that they are clearly understudied, their roles unclear and therefore underrepresented in biogeochemical ecosystem models.
The aim of my PhD is to begin to identify the role that saprotrophic aquatic fungi play in aquatic biological carbon pumps and to characterise the molecular machinery behind it.
Having already developed a model system and model fungi in a freshwater system, I hope to use these models and develop them further by undertaking an ‘omics’ approach with other molecular techniques e.g. CRISPR-Cas9, to establish the enzymes and physical interaction during degradation of particulate organic matter (POC) and potential environmental biotechnological applications. Using both a lab and fieldwork-based approach I hope to further describe the diversity and biomass of fungi and characterise role of pelagic marine fungi and their role in the cycling of POC in the oceans.
Roberts et al, (in press) Plastic microfibres may reduce the efficiency of the biological carbon pump by decreasing the settling velocity of marine snow. (Target Journal: Nature Comms)
Erasmus Grant 2015-2016 £3000
BCUR 2017, Bournemouth, UK
SAME16, Potsdam, DE
Awards and Prizes
University of Plymouth Dean’s List award 2013-2014 and 2016-2017
I started up a podcast at the MBA with the MBA pressgang called ‘The Viral Teaspoon’ which I hope to continue during my PhD. The viral teaspoon is a podcast led by the MBA’s Press Gang that focuses on current issues in marine science, what life is like as a research student (and how to get over that fearful imposter syndrome!) and how some of their favourite faces here at the MBA got to where they are now. Also run the MBA press gang twitter account @MBAPressGang.