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Minimize RSR Award Detail

Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Awardee:UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND
Doing Business As Name:University of Rhode Island
PD/PI:
  • Tatiana Rynearson
  • (401) 874-6022
  • rynearson@gso.uri.edu
Co-PD(s)/co-PI(s):
  • Bethany D Jenkins
Award Date:03/29/2016
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 827,739
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 827,739
  • FY 2016=$827,739
Start Date:09/01/2016
End Date:08/31/2020
Transaction Type:Grant
Agency:NSF
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Collaborative Research: Defining the biogeochemical drivers of diatom physiological ecology in the North Atlantic
Federal Award ID Number:1558490
DUNS ID:144017188
Parent DUNS ID:075705780
Program:BIOLOGICAL OCEANOGRAPHY
Program Officer:
  • Michael Sieracki
  • (703) 292-7585
  • msierack@nsf.gov

Awardee Location

Street:RESEARCH OFFICE
City:KINGSTON
State:RI
ZIP:02881-1967
County:Kingston
Country:US
Awardee Cong. District:02

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Rhode Island
Street:Upper College Rd
City:Kingston
State:RI
ZIP:02881-1967
County:Kingston
Country:US
Cong. District:02

Abstract at Time of Award

About half of photosynthesis on earth is generated by marine phytoplankton, single celled organisms that drift with tides and currents. Within the phytoplankton, the diatoms conduct nearly half of this photosynthesis, exerting profound control over global carbon cycling. Despite their importance, there are surprisingly fundamental gaps in understanding how diatoms function in their natural environment, in part because methods to assess in situ physiology are lacking. This project focuses on the application of a powerful new approach, called Quantitative Metabolic Fingerprinting (QMF), to address this knowledge gap and examine species-specific physiology in the field. The project will provide transformative insights into how ocean geochemistry controls the distribution of diatoms, the metabolic responses of individual diatom species, and how metabolic potential is partitioned between diatom species, thus providing new insights into the structure and function of marine systems. The overarching goal is to examine how diatom species respond to changes in biogeochemistry across marine provinces, from the coast to the open ocean, by following shifts in diatom physiology using QMF. This research is critical to understand future changes in oceanic phytoplankton in response to climate and environmental change. Furthermore, activities on this project will include supporting a graduate student and postdoctoral fellow and delivering the Artistic Oceanographer Program (AOP) to diverse middle school age children and teachers in the NYC metropolitan area and to middle-school girls in the Girl Scouts of RI, reaching an anticipated 60 children and 30 teachers annually. The programs will foster multidisciplinary hands-on learning and will directly impact STEM education at a critical point in the pipeline by targeting diverse middle-school aged groups in both NY and RI. In laboratory studies with cultured isolates, there are profound differences among diatom species' responses to nutrient limitation. Thus, it is likely that different species contribute differently to nutrient uptake, carbon flux and burial. However, marine ecosystem models often rely on physiological attributes drawn from just one species and apply those attributes globally (e.g. coastal species used to model open ocean dynamics) or choose a single average value to represent all species across the world's oceans. In part, this is due to a relatively poor understanding of diatom physiological ecology and a limited tool set for assessing in situ diatom physiological ecology. This research project will address this specific challenge by explicitly tracking metabolic pathways, measuring their regulation and determining their taxonomic distribution in a suite of environmentally significant diatoms using a state of the art, species-specific approach. A research expedition is set in the North Atlantic, a system that plays a major role in carbon cycling. Starting with a New England coastal shelf site, samples will be collected from the coast where diatoms thrive, to the open ocean and a site of a long term ocean time series station (the Bermuda Atlantic Time Series) where diatom growth is muted by nutrient limitation. This research takes advantage of new ocean observatories initiative (OOI) and time series information. Through the research expedition and downstream laboratory experiments, the molecular pathways of nutrient metabolism and related gene expression in a suite of environmentally significant diatoms will be identified. Data will be combined to predict major limiting factors and potentially important substrates for diatoms across marine provinces. Importantly, this integrated approach takes advantage of new advances in molecular and bioinformatics tools to examine in situ physiological ecology at the species-specific level, a key knowledge gap in the field.

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