Project title: Production of volatile nitrogen by marine algae: implications of a changing nutrient balance
Reference number: FITZSIMONS_UPLYM18EE
Director of studies: Dr Mark Fitzsimons
Second supervisor: Dr Gill Malin (UEA)
Third supervisor: Dr Ruth Airs (PML)
Applications are invited for a three and a half years PhD studentship. The studentship will start in October 2018.
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 maintenance of photosynthesis. These compounds degrade in seawater to produce methylamines, which can move into the atmosphere, where they take part in chemical reactions, influencing cloud formation and climate.
This PhD 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 the 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 for a global microalgal species (Emiliania huxleyi).
- Undertake seasonal sampling in the Western English Channel to investigate production of N-osmolytes and methylamines under changing natural inputs of organic nitrogen.
- Experimentally determine how changes in composition of the nitrogen pool influence production of N-osmolytes and methylamines in cultures of Emiliania huxleyi.
Based at the University of Plymouth (Dr Mark Fitzsimons) with periods of working at Plymouth Marine Laboratory (Dr Ruth Airs) and the University of East Anglia (Dr Gill Malin), 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.