Project: Nutrient uptake by picoplankton in the Arctic Ocean
Picoplankton are the smallest photosynthetic organisms in the Arctic Ocean and the base of the food web. To understand how they will be affected by a changing climate we need to investigate what controls their growth. In this project, we study nutrient uptake in picoplankton, down to the single cell level.
Project name Nutrient uptake by picoplankton in the Arctic Ocean – single cell nitrogen utilization Project manager Elin Lindehoff Other project members Hanna Farnelid, Christien Laber Participating organizations Linnaeus University Financier Formas, the Crafoord foundation, the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat Timetable 2020–2022 Subject Ecology (Department of Biology and Environmental Science, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences)
More about the project
The smallest photosynthetic organisms in the seas are called picoplankton and they measure less than two micrometers (one micrometer is one thousand of a millimeter). In the Arctic Ocean, we know that picoplankton makes up a substantial part of the phytoplankton biomass, forming the base of the marine food web. However, we know very little about what controls the blooms of picoplankton in the central Arctic. An area that was, until recently, covered in thick sea ice.
In this project we investigate the nutrient demand of picoplankton and explore what type of nitrogen they utilize. The uptake, amount and rate are measured using different nitrogen substrates labelled with the stable isotope 15N. Then by mass spectrometry analyses we can determine the nitrogen uptake, down to the single cell level.
The experiments are performed during the Synopthic Arctic Survey expedition (SAS), run by the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat onboard the icebreaker Oden. The SAS initiative spans over several research fields and nationalities, an extensive collaboration to map the ecosystem in the central Arctic Ocean. The hope is to understand the consequences of the rapid changes that the Arctic is currently undergoing.
Our work onboard is a unique opportunity to increase knowledge about picoplankton ecology in the unexplored waters of the central Arctic Ocean.