Microbial Eukaryote Proposal

Project Summary (1 page)

Due: January 25, 2016 at 5 PM (local time) DEB - Biodiversity: Discovery & Analysis Cluster Solicitation: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2015/nsf15609/nsf15609.htm Cluster description: http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=503666&org=DEB&from=home


The broad goal with this proposal is to increase the overall knowledge of the true diversity of microbial eukaryotes by identifying and culturing microeukaryotes from seagrass beds.

Microorganisms, and specifically marine microbial eukaryotes, represent an underexplored area of diversity. Microbial eukaryotes are known to be important on a number of trophic levels in the marine system CITE, and microbial eukaryotes found in seagrass beds likely contribute to their tremendous biodiversity and roles as important players in nutrient cycling and carbon sequestration in the oceans. We will use a combination of sequencing and culturing techniques to (1) characterize microeukaryotes in a global census of the seagrass Zostera marina, (2) Explore microbial eukaryotic diversity across the Order Alismatales, including the 3 separate lineages of seagrasses and their freshwater and brackish relatives, and (3) Create a publicly available culture collection of microbial eukaryotes from Zostera marina samples from Bodega Bay, CA.

Intellectual Merit

Microorganisms comprise the majority of diversity on Earth. Traditionally classified using morphological approaches, the advent of sequence data has dramatically altered our views of microbial evolution and diversity. Specifically, high throughput sequencing technologies have enabled us to explore multiple genes and genomes from microorganisms, giving us insight into genome complexity and function in these unseen organisms. As a result microbial ecologists are finding themselves in uncharted territory as they analyze large data sets full of "unclassified" organisms, and it now clear that microorganisms are much more diverse than previously thought.

Although certain pathogenic microeukaryotes have been studied in great detail (ex. giardia, see (Adam 2001)) for review, environmental microeukaryotes, specifically marine microeukatyores, are grossly uncharacterized despite their important functional roles in their ecosystems (Caron 2008). Novel marine microeukaryotic lineages have previously been found at all phylogenetic scales (Massana 2008); however, many of the