Seminar Details

Infochemical signaling mediates the cross-talk within the coccolithophore phycosphere




Prof. Assaf Vardi - Dept. of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Weizmann Institute of Science


A major challenge in our current understanding of microbial interactions in the marine environment is to decode the wealth of genomic data and translate it into better understanding of cellular mechanisms that mediate these interactions. Emiliania huxleyi is a globally important coccolithophore forming massive algal blooms in the North Atlantic Ocean. Despite the huge importance of these phytoplankton blooms to large biogeochemical processes, relatively little is known about the molecular basis for their ecological success. We are interested in understanding the cellular mechanisms that control cell fate during bloom demise governed by the response of coccolithophores to microbial interactions with viruses, bacteria and grazers. We explore the molecular and metabolic basis for these host-pathogen interactions and the specific chemical cues (infochemicals) that are produced. The newly identified genes and infochemicals, produced during these specific types of biotic interactions cab be used as biomarkers for studying host-pathogen interactions during natural blooms. This approach will enable sensitive assessment of the ecological impact of the microbial cross-talk on the function and composition of marine food webs.

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