My work focuses on single-cell marine organisms, mainly eukaryotes, and aims to better understand how their physiology backs up their tremendous environmental role and biogeochemical cycling in the ocean. To achieve these goals, I employ a variety of methods ranging from molecular biology and omics approaches to the use of stable isotope tracers.
We are developing an approach to modify the genomes of photosynthetic picoeukaryotes to be able to conduct further experimental and field work shedding light on their physiology, evolution, and ecological role. Genome engineering has been widely applied in experimental biology since it became possible, but its application to marine eukaryotes is still very limited. We hope that our work will help make progress in this direction and unravel yet mysterious processes within oceanic microbial communities.
The recent CALYPSO cruise held in the Mediterranean Sea led by scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA, was devoted to observing and characterizing pathways by which water from the surface reaches the deeper ocean. Our research on marine microbes helps to track these routes and, most importantly, to understand how the revealed meso- and submesoscale physical processes affect the structure and functioning of microbial communities, as well as the fluxes of carbon, nitrogen and other elements essential to all living organisms.
Both projects are carried out in close collaboration with the Ocean EcoSystems Biology laboratory at GEOMAR.