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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Duke University
  • Dana E Hunt
  • (252) 504-7542
Award Date:07/11/2013
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 99,999
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 99,999
  • FY 2013=$99,999
Start Date:09/01/2013
End Date:08/31/2016
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:OCE-RIG: Biological activity on particulate organic material in the coastal ocean
Federal Award ID Number:1322950
DUNS ID:044387793
Parent DUNS ID:044387793
Program:OCE Research Initiation Grant
Program Officer:
  • Judith Pugh
  • (703) 292-0000

Awardee Location

Street:2200 W. Main St, Suite 710
Awardee Cong. District:01

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Duke University Marine Lab
Street:135 Duke Marine Lab Rd
Cong. District:03

Abstract at Time of Award

Overview: Marine microbial populations exhibit characteristic distributions both seasonally and across ocean basins. Using natural spatial and temporal variability, oceanographers have sought to identify the ecological variables that drive the abundance and activity of microbial groups. However, in addition to large scale resource gradients with distance and depth, there are numerous small scale microenvironments in the ocean where rates and processes are likely distinct from those in bulk seawater. Using an on-going time series, the investigator will examine seasonal changes in total and phylotype-specific biological activity in the particulate and freeliving phases. This project supports an early-career investigator working at the Pivers Island Coastal Observatory (PICO). The PICO time series has been sampled weekly (or more frequently) over the last two years to capture physical, chemical and biological variability in the coastal ocean. This time series enables the investigator to collaborate with a number of researchers and will serve as a long-term research focus. Intellectual merit: There is a growing interest in considering the contributions of microscale processes to total biological activity in the marine environment. Using size-fractionated seawater, this investigator will assess the changing contribution of particles to biological activity. Experiments will reveal the biogeochemical importance of particle-attached microbes to bulk biological processes and how they change over the course of a yearly cycle and in response to environmental perturbations (e.g. storms). The investigator will also compare the phylogeny and specific activity of particle-attached and free-living bacteria using 16S rRNA and rDNA libraries to identify which clades are responsible for these changes in total activity. In addition to categorizing clades as particle-attached or free-living, this investigator will examine the time series for transitions between particles and planktonic lifestyles at both coarse (16S rDNA) and fine scales (ITS) of phylogenetic resolution. This work will contribute to a more complete understanding of the role of particulate organic material as a distinct marine microenvironment and clarify its role in biogeochemistry. Broader impacts: The project directly involves a minority graduate student and several undergraduate students (from Duke, Marine Science Education Consortium Schools, and the REU program in marine science) in research activities. This work will also facilitate advancement of early career faculty in oceanography through development of a Preparing Oceanography Future Faculty (POFF) program to encourage women and underrepresented minorities to make the critical jump from graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to tenure-track faculty. POFF will provide motivated graduate students with a background in charting their careers to developing skills important for academic positions. After teaching the course, curricula, lesson plans and open source readings will be made publically available on a website to enable faculty to teach similar courses at other oceanography schools. To expand this outreach beyond academia, graduate students in the course will gain experience in mentoring by supervising middle school oceanography students in a science fair project, providing tours of the marine lab, and taking the eighth graders on a "research" cruise.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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Hunt DE and CS Ward "A network-based approach to disturbance transmission through microbial interactions" Frontiers in Microbiology, v.6, 2016, p.. doi:doi:10.3389/fmicb.2015.01182 

Yung CM, CS Ward, KM Davis, ZI Johnson, DE Hunt "Insensitivity of diverse and temporally-variable particle-associated microbial communities to bulk seawater environmental parameters" Applied and Environmental Microbiology, v.82, 2016, p.3431.

Yung CM, MK Vereen, A Herbert, KM Davis, J Yang, A Kantorowska, CS Ward, JJ Wernegreen, ZI Johnson, DE Hunt "Thermally adaptive tradeoffs in closely-related marine bacteria" Environmental Microbiology, v.17, 2015, p.2421-2429.

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

This research project seeks to linking microbial communities or types to specific environmental conditions through repeated observations in a temperate, coastal ecosystem (Pivers Island Coastal Observatory: PICO) located at the Beaufort Inlet, Beaufort NC USA.  By comparing particle-associated and free-living bacterial diversity at this coastal location over the course of 14 months, we show that bacteria associated with particles are generally more diverse and appear to be less responsive to commonly measured environmental variables than free-living bacteria. These diverse and highly variable particle-associated communities are likely driven by differences in particle substrates both within the water column at a single time point and due to seasonal changes over the course of the year.  Further research on the changing microbes present over time, in this case three years of weekly monitoring, has revealed novel patterns in the microbial community.  As in other locations, the microbial community at PICO changes in repeated patterns over the course of a year.  However, these community changes are largely due to the dominance of specific types in either the summer or winter along with some groups that are present year-round.  Rapid transitions between summer and winter microbial communities appear to be linked to the large (20 ?C) temperature change at this site over the course of a year.  Overall, this research provides insight into how the environment shapes the microbial community in the coastal ocean.


Last Modified: 12/04/2016
Modified by: Dana E Hunt

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