Project description

In the open ocean primary production is largely mediated by unicellular cyanobacteria and some populations are capable of reducing di-nitrogen (N2) to biologically available nitrogen (N) through the process of N2 fixation. The current paradigm of the global marine N cycle considers the activities of unicellular N2-fixing (diazotrophs) cyanobacteria as an important source of new N due to their high abundances and broad distributions. Two new strains of unicellular diazotrophic cyanobacteria were recently isolated from the coastal waters surrounding Zanzibar Island, Tanzania. The isolates are maintained in N free media, and genomes were sequenced and annotated. A unique protein was identified in one of the strains, which encodes for a putative proterorhodopsin. Proterorhodopsins function in light-driven proton pumps, and are typically associated with bacteria and archaea in the marine environment.  The primary goal of the Ms project is to identify if the Proterorhodopsin like protein is functional by running lab based experiments to measure the photochemical activity and in addition designing quantitative PCR assays to estimate gene transcription.

Previous experience or interest in growing algae, in particular cyanobacteria, is helpful but not required.   In addition, basic molecular biological methods (nucleic acid extraction, PCR, cloning) are also helpful.  There is also the possibility for field based work given motivation of candidate.


For further information about the position, please contact Dr. Rachel A. Foster by email