Seminar Details

Life cycle intricacies in marine microbes and the particular case of Emiliania huxleyi, a bloom forming phytoplankton




Dr. Miguel Frada - The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and The Interuniversity Institute of Eilat


Marine ecosystem functioning is critically dependent on eukaryotic phytoplankton, which plays a central role in oceanic primary production and global biogeochemistry. One of the most basic characteristics of eukaryotic life is the possession of complex life cycles, typically driven by sexual reproduction. This process entails the production of alternate life phases displaying distinct cellular and behavioral properties, and consequently distinct ecological roles and biogeochemical fates. Yet the evolutionary and adaptive significance of microbial life cycles have been largely overlooked in biological oceanography, which still consider microbial cells as clonal, unchangeable through time. On the seminar, I will elaborate on this topic which will represent the core of my research in coming years. Following, I will present novel results on the interplay of Emiliania huxleyi, a prevalent bloom-forming marine phytoplankton species, with specific viruses that drive the termination of blooms. I will show how E. huxleyi life cycle has been shaped to enable escape from viral attack and promote the survival of a minute fraction of cells that are resistant to viral infection. Overall, this study highlights the adaptive significance of phenotypic plasticity of microbial cells to life at sea.

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