ice floe in the Arctic Ocean

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 information

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.

The project is part of the research in the project Arctic expedition – Synoptic Arctic Survey-SAS Oden 2021, the research groups Marine phytoplankton ecology and applications (MPEA) and Linnaeus University Centre for Ecology and Evolution in Microbial model Systems (EEMiS), and the Linnaeus Knowledge Environment Water.

Staff