Prof Mark Fitzsimons, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth
Dr Ruth Airs, Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML)
Dr Gill Malin, UEA, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia
Dr Simon Ussher, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth
Microalgae are major components of marine ecosystems worldwide, providing essential ecosystem services including using carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. Our research shows that they also produce nitrogen-containing compounds (N-osmolytes) used for alleviating salinity stress and maintaining photosynthesis. These compounds degrade in seawater to produce methylamines, which can move into the atmosphere and take part in chemical reactions, influencing cloud formation and climate.
This is an exciting opportunity to advance understanding of the production of N-osmolytes and methylamines by algae today and in the future. Climate change scenarios predict conditions leading to variable riverine inputs to coastal areas and changes to the balance of nutrient pools. Your challenge is to investigate how these changes might affect production of N-osmolytes and methylamines, which could have important consequences for the climate.
- Use liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry and gas chromatography to examine production of N-osmolytes and methylamines by marine algal species.
- Experimentally determine how changes in composition of the nitrogen pool influence production of N-osmolytes and methylamines in cultures of key, representative marine algal species (e.g. diatoms, dinoflagellates and coccolithophores).
- Undertake seasonal sampling in the Western English Channel to investigate production of N-osmolytes and methylamines under changing natural inputs of organic nitrogen.
Based at the UoP (Fitzsimons and Ussher) with periods of working at the UEA (Malin) and Plymouth Marine Laboratory (Airs), this studentship will include algal culturing and field sampling in coastal and oceanic waters. We are a strong multidisciplinary team with excellent track records for research on algae and measurement of the compounds to be studied.
You will develop advanced lab and field research skills plus transferable skills to support your future career. The analytical techniques and approach are cutting-edge and will give you an excellent portfolio of skills to launch your future career.
This project would suit a self-motivated individual, with good experimental skills and practical ingenuity. Relevant analytical skills and an appreciation of marine microalgae would be ideal. You should have/anticipate a minimum 2i (BSc) in the Biological, Chemical or Environmental Sciences.